Tomato mozzarella vegetable bake is one of my oldest and favourite recipes, it’s my go-to comfort food when it’s rainy and dark outside or I’m feeling a bit rubbish. A rich tomato wine garlicky sauce coating tender courgette pieces, chickpeas and melted mozzarella, it’s to die for. Just chuck everything in an casserole dish and settle down to watch some netflix with some leftover wine while your dinner takes care of itself.
When I first went vegetarian, I was a badddd vegetarian. At fourteen years of age I barely knew how to cook and had no idea about nutrition, apart from some basic concepts I’d picked up in science classes. My limited repertoire consisted of jarred pasta sauces, cheese, pizza (pre-made of course), potato bakes (with sauce from a jar), and sandwiches.
When I went to university I started to branch out more, look up recipes, and experiment. My experiments were usually massive failures and I now feel terribly sorry for all the poor “victims”I “encouraged”(forced) to try my food. This recipe was my first success, and I still make it regularly.
In theory you could serve this with pasta or even rice, but in practice it’s gotta be couscous. Make sure to serve the couscous on the side, if you serve the sauce on top of the couscous, the couscous will absorb more moisture and become mushy.
Every couscous packet has different instructions but this way will work with any type – apart from Israeli couscous. Put one cup of couscous in a Tupperware container, add in ¼ tsp salt and 1 tsp oil, mix, then add in one cup boiling water and quickly put the lid on. Leave for five minutes, then fluff the couscous up and serve.
This bake does not need to be stirred or checked. Just stick it in the oven and walk away until the timer goes off. Serve piping hot so you get those tantalizing melted mozzarella strings when you dish it out.
- 1 large onion
- 500 g courgettes, quarter lengthwise and sliced into 1cm pieces
- 1 large jar chickpeas
- 6 fat cloves garlic chopped
- 300 ml red wine
- 800 g tin of crushed tomatoes
- 1.5 tsp tabasco, or to taste
- ¾ tsp salt
- Lots of fresh black cracked pepper
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 2 pkts full-fat buffalo mozzarella, chopped roughly
- Chop the onions finely and add them to a large casserole dish. Make sure they are quite finely chopped as they take quite a while to cook in the tomato sauce.
- Add all the other ingredients and mix well. The sauce will look a little dark from the wine but don’t worry, the sauce needs to be quite wine-heavy (rich!). Taste and check for seasoning and spice, adding more tabasco or salt as needed.
- Place the casserole dish in an oven which has been preheated to 200 degrees centigrade.
- Set the timer for 45 minutes and walk away. Have a glass of wine. Chill out.
- After 45 minutes check to see if the casserole is done. You’ll need to check the courgettes and onions really. If they still retain a bite, set the timer for fifteen minutes more. The top of the casserole should be thick dark sauce but if it’s starting to burn then cover with foil for the remaining cooking time. Make your couscous, allowing between ⅓ cup - ½ a cup for each person.
- Take out of the oven and serve hot with the couscous on the side.