If you’re looking for a veggie dish to add to your Succos table, I highly recommend upside-down vegetable towers. It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. The concept is this: Saute vegetables, pour a quick bread batter on top, then invert after baking. Ta-da!
The day I tried this recipe for the first time was the day we had our kitchen cabinets mounted on the wall. It was a Friday, of course, and I was trying to cook for Shabbos without access to my counters and sinks. Which by the way, are tiny to begin with.
See, we live in a caravan, and there isn’t a whole lot of room for the kitchen. And no, our shchuna (neighborhood) of 12 caravans is not like a trailer park. Really!
For those of you not acquainted with yishuv life, a caravan is a pre-fabricated home that is in many ways like any other small apartment. In fact, it’s not much smaller than our first apartment, and is completely adequate for our needs. We even have a second bedroom, which in Israel is considered a step up. (There are many large, beautiful, permanent homes on the yishuv, too. Just for the record.)
On the outside, our caravan looks like a white box. And when we moved in, that was pretty much what we got. There was the space below the sinks for kitchen storage, along with the drawers for silverware and utensils. But for Major Storage Space, we really needed those kitchen cabinets.
If you’re curious as to why anyone would want to live in a white box, let me just say that I actually prefer it to a regular apartment. Each time I walk down the hill towards home, I see the rolling mountains of Eretz Yisrael with our cluster of caravans seemingly plopped down out of nowhere. My heart sings! My soul flies! I’m not a hippie type, but seriously. Is this yishuv ha’aretz, or what?
(This is not at all meant to discount from the many other wonderful communities in Israel. They are all special, and all needed. I’m just obssessed with our yishuv.)
Back to the upside-down vegetable towers.
The vegetable base is fairly flexible. I used onions, mushrooms, a red pepper, corn, a carrot, and scallions for a variety of colors, but you can play around with it based on what you’ve got in your veggie bin.
The quick bread batter was what initially appealed to me about this recipe. I had recently discovered quick breads in the form of the sweet maple oat raisin one I had taken to eating for breakfast, so I wanted to see what a savory one would be like.
It was good. Real good.
Just a word about the inverting step: You are liable to lose some vegetables in the flip-over. Don’t lose heart. It just means you have a little something to snack on while you’re cooking.
Adapted from The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest
Layer #1: Vegetables
- 1½ Tbsp butter
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 carton fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1 can corn
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 scallions, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
Layer #2: Herbed quick bread
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1-2 Tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp each dried oregano and thyme
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh dill (or 1 Tbsp dried)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup buttermilk*
- 2 Tbsp butter, melted
*To make buttermilk, pour 1 Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar in a 1-cup measuring cup and fill the rest of the way with milk. Let sit for 5 minutes.
1. Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C. Grease an 8″ x 8″ dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Saute veggies and garlic in the butter (all veggies but the scallions), starting with the onion and adding others as they’re ready. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread along the bottom of the baking dish and top with scallions.
3. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in sugar and herbs and mix well. Make a well in the center.
4. In a separate (medium-sized) bowl, beat together the egg, buttermilk, and melted butter.
5. Pour the liquid mixture into the center of the dry mixture and mix with a spoon until well combined, being sure to scrape the bowl so that no dry spots are left.
6. Spread the batter over the vegetables and distribute as evenly as possible. Bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
7. Invert the dish onto a platter that is slightly longer than the baking dish. You can bring the entire thing to the table or cut it into squares and then serve.