Italian Summer Vegetable Casserole is the best of summer produce in a beautiful Mediterranean-inspired dish! The vegetables are grilled first for a touch of smokiness, then smothered and layered with marinara sauce and cheese. This beautiful combination is then baked until bubbling and crusty!
This time of year is all about the zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers and eggplant that is exploding in gardens and farmers markets everywhere!
My Italian Summer Vegetable Casserole is all about that abundance and beauty! Sort of like Eggplant Parmesan, sort of like a ratatouille, sort of like a lasagna, this casserole is the perfect way to use that summer bounty of vegetables!
You’re looking at one of my all-time favorite combinations of vegetables: Zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers and eggplant! There’s a harmony in this marriage of vegetables making them so perfect together in so many ways.
Here are some ways I’ve already shared this lovely combination here at From A Chef’s Kitchen:
And here’s another! Italian Summer Vegetable Casserole!
Now, as with most savory Italian recipes, the recipe is very forgiving and you don’t have to follow it exactly. For example in this dish, if you have more zucchini than eggplant, it will work fine. Our garden was a little shy on yellow squash but the zucchini I had made up for it.
If you are into making your own marinara for a dish like this, by all means, do it. Otherwise, a good quality jarred marinara will work fine. I recently discovered Bertolli’s Olive Oil and Garlic Marinara and think it’s GREAT for the price!
How to make Italian Summer Vegetable Casserole:
- After grilling the vegetables, start layering.
- Start with some marinara sauce at the bottom, then layer with some zucchini, sauce, cheese and torn basil leaves.
- Top with the grilled red bell peppers…..
- More zucchini and yellow squash….
- More marinara, cheese and yellow bell pepper….
- A bit more marinara and cheese followed by the grilled eggplant.
- Top with the rest of the sauce….
- Did I say more cheese? Yes, more cheese!
- Followed by a crispy breadcrumb, cheese and herb topping!
Bake…. And baby!
You’ve got some beautiful summer comfort food happening!
This dish would be perfect with a salad and some bread or as a lovely side dish for grilled meat or poultry!
Helpful Tools and Equipment to Make Italian Summer Vegetable Casserole
Italian Summer Vegetable Casserole is the best of summer vegetables grilled first for a touch of smokiness then all baked into something beautiful, bubbling and crusty!
- 1 medium eggplant, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 2 small to medium yellow squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded, stem and core removed, cut into approximately 12 long strips
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded, stem and core removed, cut into approximately 12 long strips
- 1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cooking spray
- 1 jar (24-ounce) marinara sauce such as Bertolli Olive Oil and Garlic
- 2 large sprigs fresh basil, leaves torn
- 3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup panko
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat a grill to medium-high. Lightly brush vegetables with 1/4 cup olive oil. Place vegetables on the grill, reduce heat to medium. Cook vegetable until nicely marked and slightly softened, except for eggplant. Cook eggplant until easily pierced with a knife.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Spread approximately 1/2 cup marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Place zucchini over the sauce to cover the bottom, then top with 1/2 cup of the marinara and sprinkle with approximately 1/2 cup of the Mozzarella, a sprinkling of Parmesan and some torn basil. Top with red bell pepper.
Top with remaining zucchini and yellow squash, 1/2 cup sauce, 1/2 cup Mozzarella, more Parmesan and more torn basil.
Top with yellow bell pepper then eggplant.
Pour remaining marinara sauce over the casserole. Top with remaining Mozzarella and more Parmesan, leaving approximately 1/4 cup for the topping.
Combine remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, panko, parsley and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
Bake for 45 minutes or until bubbling and topping is lightly browned.
Can be prepared to the point of baking and refrigerated up to 1 day. If placing cold in the oven, allow extra baking time. If using glass or ceramic, it's always best to let the dish sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before placing in a hot oven.