Zucchini and Cauliflower Casserole

Zucchini-and-Cauliflower-CasseroleZucchini & Cauliflower Casserole is a combination of vegetables, cheese and crackers to make a delicious vegetarian one-dish meal or a side dish that isn’t too heavy but has all the integrity of your favorite comfort food.

I love my job and all the people that I have the privilege and pleasure to work with — mingling with food enthusiasts is magical. Every day I get into spirited discussions about things like extracting finger lime caviar, reconstructing shepherd’s pie from that trip to Scotland last year or how we would never follow a diet that excludes beans, bread or bananas. The most recent one was with a coworker who is a fellow casserole advocate who celebrates Ritz crackers as the key ingredient to complete the ideal casserole. At the time, I was working on a cottage cheese casserole that involved no added starch, but I agreed the cracker could elevate this casserole. And it does. But it’s only one piece of this savory, rectangular, crustless pie.

Of course there are many ways to make a casserole. Lasagna is, basically, an Italian casserole and cassoulet is a French casserole — many dishes that you didn’t realize qualify as casseroles. Typically, there are four elements to make up a casserole. There’s the pillar that you want to focus on like chicken in a cheesy broccoli chicken casserole , the complementary fatty flavorings like heavy cream or parmesan cheese, the starch to give it structure like bread crumbs, and the adhesive that keeps everything together — most of the time it’s egg. What I wanted was to make a lighter casserole that could be considered a one dish meal (I’m not vegetarian, but I follow a mostly meat-free lifestyle) or a veggie side dish. This casserole checks all the boxes of a typical casserole and I’ll tell you why I chose each ingredient.

Zucchini & Cauliflower

I love how mushy shredded zucchini gets when they’re shaped into fritters, but I wanted a little extra veggie boost without distracting from the summer squash. I chose cauliflower because it’s so mild in flavor that it can go with pretty much anything. Additionally, although I riced the cauliflower, I left in some larger chunks to give the casserole a little more texture. These two vegetables partner very well — especially when they jump down that gooey casserole rabbit hole.

Mayonnaise & Cottage Cheese

A lot of casseroles use either condensed soup or mayonnaise to give the pillar something delicious to tread in. I chose mayonnaise because just about anything can be transformed into joy if it’s mixed with mayonnaise. However, mayo is very, very high in calories. In one cup of mayonnaise is 1500 calories (!!!!!!!!!!). There are only 220 in one cup of 4% fat cottage cheese. I tried replacing the mayo altogether with cottage cheese, but it kind of lost that casserole smooth moistness (is that even a word?). It wasn’t terrible, but it did taste kind of like a low-fat dish — like you know there’s something missing that would make it taste sooooo much better. That’s because it was: mayonnaise. So I compromised and did some mayo but mostly cottage cheese.

Eggs & Cheddar

The eggs just hold everything together and because this is a vegetarian dish, it adds extra protein while the cheddar gives it a little bit deeper flavor and reduces the need for salt.

Crackers

Though I agree, Ritz crackers do make a casserole, I use Trader Joe’s Butter Rounds. I don’t think I’m Trader Joe’s biggest fan, but they have some pretty good products (and an amazing podcast, I might add, and they treat their employees really well!) and their Butter Rounds are an excellent substitute in this casserole. Half of the crumbled crackers are mixed into the vegetable mixture to help hold up the casserole and absorb the extra liquid and the other half is mixed with melted butter for a crunchy topping.

This is an excellent casserole. I think it’s a better way to enjoy zucchini than as zoodles or cauliflower as roasted cauliflower or a cauliflower steak. Also, it only takes about 20 minutes of prep time and the total time to cook is 40 minute. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Zucchini and Cauliflower Casserole

 

Ingredients

Zucchini-and-Cauliflower-Casserole

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium shallot
  • ½ head cauliflower
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ cups cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 sleeves (64) butter crackers like Ritz (I like Trader Joe’s Butter Crackers)
  • 3 TB unsalted butter
  1. Preheat oven to 400℉.
  2. Grate zucchini along with the shallot in a food processor. If you are not using a food processor, finely dice the shallot and use a box grater for the zucchini.
  3. Transfer the shredded zucchini to a clean kitchen towel. Pull up the corners and squeeze out as much water as possible.Zucchini-and-Cauliflower-Casserole
  4. In the same bowl of the food processor, pulse the cauliflower until you have mostly small bits. I like to keep some big pieces for texture. Cut into small bits if you’re not using a food processor.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, cauliflower and cheddar.
  6. Add the dill.
  7. Add the mayonnaise, eggs and cottage cheese.
  8. Add one sleeve (32) of crumbled crackers.
  9. Mix everything together very well.Zucchini-and-Cauliflower-Casserole
  10. Spread the mixture in a 13×9-inch baking dish or casserole dish.
  11. Melt butter and mix with the remaining crumbled crackers.
  12. Sprinkle the cracker mixture on the top of the zucchini mixture.
  13. Bake for 40 minutes or the internal temperature reaches 165℉ and the top is golden brown. Zucchini-and-Cauliflower-Casserole

Zucchini and Cauliflower Casserole
Zucchini-and-Cauliflower-Casserole

Ingredients

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium shallot
  • ½ head cauliflower
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ cups cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 sleeves (64) butter crackers like Ritz (I like Trader Joe’s Butter Crackers)
  • 3 TB unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400℉.
  2. Grate zucchini along with the shallot in a food processor. If you are not using a food processor, finely dice the shallot and use a box grater for the zucchini.
  3. Transfer the shredded zucchini to a clean kitchen towel. Pull up the corners and squeeze out as much water as possible.
  4. In the same bowl of the food processor, pulse the cauliflower until you have mostly small bits. I like to keep some big pieces for texture. Cut into small bits if you’re not using a food processor.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, cauliflower and cheddar.
  6. Add the dill.
  7. Add the mayonnaise, eggs and cottage cheese.
  8. Add one sleeve (32) of crumbled crackers.
  9. Mix everything together very well.
  10. Spread the mixture in a 13×9-inch baking dish.
  11. Melt butter and mix with the remaining crumbled crackers.
  12. Sprinkle the cracker mixture on the top of the zucchini mixture.
  13. Bake for 40 minutes or the internal temperature reaches 165℉ and the top is golden brown.

Zucchini-and-Cauliflower-Casserole

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