Nothing too exotic, nothing very strange (although I often seek out just those qualities). This is my sort of comfort food. After all, there's nothing comforting about being weighed down by your food. Nothing comforting about feeling your stomach fill up and over and about carrying that around for hours. I do not want to be put into a coma by my food, unless, of course, it is a special occasion (and I have a pretty inclusive definition of special occasions).
But for it to be comforting, it needs to be warm, it needs to have at least some bulk (so steamed vegetables will never count) and it needs to have flavor. Color never hurts, either. I am an eternal sucker for color.
Here the ingredients themselves are nothing out of the ordinary, but the preparation sure is. A medley of gently sautéed vegetables, use your favorites of course, topped by a yogurt-herbed quick bread that bakes up into a flavorful, savory cake. Flipping can be tricky, but this is comfort food, and comfort food should never cause anxiety. You can call it rustic if that makes it easier, and embrace the explosion of vegetables over the plate.
Vegetable Upside-Down Cake
adapted from Mollie Katzen's Enchanted Broccoli Forest
For the Vegetables
Oil for the pan
3 tablespoons panko (or any bread crumbs)
1 onion, chopped
1 head broccoli, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup corn
5 cloves garlic, passed through a press
Assertive pinch of black pepper, to taste
Assertive pinch of cayenne, to taste
bunch of scallions, minced
Oven preheated to 350. Greese a 9 x 13" baking dish and set aside. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with the bread crumbs.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium and sauté the onion for 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, carrot and salt, stir and cover. Cook for 8 minutes, until the vegetables are barely tender. Add the bell pepper, corn and garlic, stir and cook for a minute or two more. Stir in the black pepper, cayenne and scallions.
Spread the hot vegetables in the baking dish and allow them to rest while you make the quick bread.
For the yogurt-herbed cake
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 teaspoons dried dill
2 large eggs
12 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) fat-free greek yogurt
3 tablespoons melted butter
Sift the first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and herbs. Make a well in the center and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs, yogurt and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the well made in the dry ingredients and, using your hands, mix until just combined. Do not overmix.
Spread the batter over the vegetables. You might have to piece it together, taking batter from one part and moving it to another so that the vegetables are covered.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. If you have the stomach for it, you can attempt to turn the entire thing out onto a large serving tray. Or you can do it one piece at a time.
* You can use fresh or frozen corn, no need to defrost if you choose frozen.
* You might also consider using a mixture of broccoli and cauliflower, or all of one or the other.
* As an addition, you can spread a layer of grated cheese over the vegetables before you top them with the cake mixture.
* The marjoram can be substituted with oregano.
* You can use any kind of yogurt that you like, or even buttermilk.