Tag Archives: Veggies

Standard weeknight fare

Made this for supper recently and thought it was a pretty fair representative of a standard weeknight meal. 2 veggies, a little protein, simple, fresh and yummy (in my opinion).

  • Asparagus tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, then broiled. Serve with lemon wedge
  • Roasted gold beets, quartered and tossed with sherry vinegar, salt, pepper and a little feta and mint
  • Wild salmon- pan-seared (skin side up), then flipped, slathered with some pesto from the freezer and popped into the oven on broil (still on from the asparagus) for a few minutes.

Mediocre pictures, delicious food

Look… I have tried and tried to capture this dish in pictures. But,  I just have my dinky little Coolpix and I can’t do it justice. I’ve finally decided that I need to just post the bastard and hope that you’ll trust me vs. your eyes.

I found some version of this recipe about 5 years ago in a Mario Batali cookbook, but the dish I make today is only a very distant cousin of that dish. For starters, I’ve cut every corner possible. If I’m going to invest an impressive amount of time and energy into a dish, it is going to be something a lot more impressive than eggplant rotini. Second, I like to bulk it up a bit with spinach and more filler. You can skip the greens if you want/are a Communist.  Anywho, here goes..

Serves 6-8  as a side and 4 as a main dish

  • 2  Large eggplant
  • 1  Package chopped frozen spinach- thawed and strained
  • 1  Cup ricotta- full-fat or low-fat is preferable to fat free
  • 1  Egg, beaten
  • ¼ Cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1   Teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2    Cups marinara sauce
  • 3   Tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1   Cup grated Italian cheese, such as Asiago, Mozzarella, etc.

1.    Eggplant: Peel eggplant and slice very thinly (1/4 inch or less) lengthwise with a knife of mandolin.  You should have long, thin strips of eggplant. At this point, eggplant can be grilled or broiled.

Grilled: Clean and oil grill. Spray or brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Lay on hot grill for ~1 minute on each side. Eggplant should be very slightly charred with some darker spots

b.      Broiled: Preheat broiler and move rack to bottom middle position. Spray or brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Place eggplant on 2 cookie sheets and broil 2 minutes on each side

Set aside eggplant for later use. Preheat or decrease oven heat to 400 degrees

2.    Filling: Combine spinach, egg, nutmeg and parmesan cheese in small bowl until combined. Stir in ricotta cheese and set aside

3.   Assemble: Pour marinara into large pyrex or other oven-safe casserole dish and stir in chopped basil.  Place approx 1 tablespoon of spinach filling at “fat” end of prepared eggplant.  Carefully roll filled end towards thinner end until you have a stuffed tube. Place seam-side down in prepared dish.  Fill dish compactly with rolled eggplant, sprinkle with grated cheese and cook until cheese is melted and spotty, approx 10 minutes.

Note:  Dish can be prepared up to 1 day in advance, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature prior to heating and heat additional 3-5 minutes.

Random goodness

Here are some random meals we’ve had (somewhat) recently that I really liked and don’t want to forget….

Leftover pot roast on egg noodles: Pretty self-explanatory, no? When my mom visited, she bought me my beloved crock pot and made an introductory pot roast for me. I popped about 1/2 of it in the freezer and resuscitated it 2 months later for a delicious dinner.

A scrumptious salad: Arugula with chopped cherries, Marcona almonds, grated Parrano cheese and balsamic vinaigrette

Pollo Rico! This is one of my favorite local spots. 1/2 a delicious roasted chicken, Mexican rice, GREAT beans, 1/2 a roasted onion, corn tortillas, fire-roasted tomato salsa and creamy jalapeno salsa…all for about $7. Seriously?

Veggie curry: This is now my go-to pantry/freezer/leftover dish. Yum. Basically onions, garlic, ginger and chickpeas + any veggies I have around, all simmered in a sauce of diced tomatoes, curry, coriander and turmeric. Served with a raita made of shredded cucs, garlic, yogurt and a pinch of salt. Super easy. Super healthy. Super supper

Cobb salad: Your basic composed salad. Romaine + bacon + hard boiled egg + tomatoes + feta + avocado + light, lemony vinaigrette

Roasted Broccoli

This is my favorite way to cook broccoli. It’s easy, delicious and beautiful. Plus, I’m always looking for ways to get my food into the oven and off of the stovetop. Oven-roasting is so much easier and cleaner, no?

It’s great as-is, but also delicious with some grated parm. In this picture, I’ve tossed it with toasted pinenuts, grated Parmesan and lemon zest. YUM

  • One large head broccoli
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t sugar (I know, it’s weird. But it really helps it caramelize)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Lemon wedges to serve
  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place large rimmed sheet pan on rack and preheat oven to 500. It’s important to preheat your pan with the oven, so that the broccoli is seared when you put it in the pan.
  2. Cut broccoli at head of. Peel from stalk and cut stalk into 2- to 3-inch lengths, then cut each stalk piece into 1/2-inch-thick slices.  Cut crowns into 4-6 wedges, depending on size of crowns. Note that you are not trying to create individual little “trees” like you might normally. Ideally, each piece you cut will have a flat section of exposed stalk.
  3. Place broccoli in large bowl; drizzle with oil and toss well until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and pepper to taste and toss to combine.
  4. Working very quickly, remove baking sheet from oven. Carefully transfer broccoli to baking sheet and spread into even layer, placing flat sides down. Return baking sheet to oven and roast until stalks are well browned and tender and florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes.
  5. Transfer to serving dish. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Or toss with basically anything you like.

Here it is again on the plate with some de-licious lemon-glazed sweet potatoes and a simple arugula salad:

 

Birthday dinner

Well, the birthday dinner was a big success. The table was covered with candles, bright colors and little toys. I hung old pics (mostly Polaroids) from the chandelier and got these great balloons that say “Happy Dumb Birthday.”

It all started off with my spicy acorn squash soup, topped with some crispy caramelized shallots:

You can see the carrot cake in the foreground, but here’s a better picture of its insane deliciousness:

In between those scrumptious bookends, I serves roasted asparagus (I should add that recipe) and this Tuscan chicken dish I made up a million years ago. Basically, you serve chicken cutlets with crisped prosciutto and a mushroom Madeira sauce on creamed spinach.  I came up with it when I was on that Devil Atkins diet. It was a keeper, though. Here’s a pic…

2 good dinners

  1. Thai chicken salad: I marinated a chicken breast in a ginger marinade, grilled it up and sliced it thin. The dressing is fish sauce, lime juice, chilies, a little sugar and grapeseed oil. The greens are mache, spinach and cilantro. Throw in some peanuts, carrot sticks, red bell pepper, and we’re good to go!
  2. Greek pita and salad: First of all, we didn’t need the beet/goat cheese stacks. I had a roasted beet leftover, so I made it. But it was overkill. Just saying.  I made small patties with ground lamb, lemon zest, salt & pepper, and chopped mint. Sauteed those and served in half a whole wheat pita. Top it with greek yogurt mixed with a crushed garlic toe, a whole shredded cucumber, salt & pepper. YUM. The greek salad is just parsley, cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, cucumber and feta, tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Boom

Broiled eggplant parm

I am going to be upfront with you, people. This is not as delicious as eggplant parm. BUT, it is way healthier and easier. That’s worth something, right? My eggplant garden is exploding, so I needed some new cooking methods. I liked it and will certainly make it again, but it does not top the eggplant stuffed with spinach and ricotta. That is divine. I’ll make it/post it next week. In the meantime, this really was quite delicious.

Shown here with my creamy israeli cous-cous (but with whole wheat cous-cous and sauteed mushrooms added…YUM)

  • 2 lbs eggplant (~2 large or 3 medium)
  • 1 T table salt
  • 2 T EVOO
  • 4 t good balsamic
  • 1 toe garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozz (as opposed to grated- just sort of tear it up into small pieces)
  • 6 T fresh grated parm
  • 3 T fresh basil
  • 1/2 C marinara (you can just used good jarred)
  1. Cut off and discard stem and bottom end of each eggplant. Don’t peel. Cut eggplants crosswise into 3/4-inch slices. Lay slices out on a cutting board, sprinkle tops with half the salt, and rub it in with your fingers. Turn eggplant slices over and repeat  with remaining salt. Place eggplant in a colander set over bowl or sink and let eggplant stand for  2 to 3 hours.
  2. Rinse eggplant under cold, running water, rubbing slices lightly in your hands. Shake colander to drain. Lay slices about an inch apart on triple thickness of paper towels or clean dishtowel; cover with another triple layer of towels or clean dishtowel. Using your palms, press each eggplant slice very firmly until it looks green and translucent and feels firm and leathery when pressed between fingertips. You may need to refresh towels if they get too wet.  You can do this and refrigerate up to 3 hours before cooking.
  3. Heat broiler. Mix oil, vinegar, and garlic in small cup. Arrange eggplant slices fairly close together on a baking sheet; brush tops with half of oil mixture. Turn slices over and brush with remaining oil mixture. Broil eggplant slices about 8 inches from heat source until tops turn brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Turn slices over; broil until other sides lighter brown, an additional 4 to 5 minutes. WATCH CAREFULLY.
  4. While broiling, combine mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. When eggplant is broiled on second side, remove and sprinkle slices with cheese mixture; return eggplant to broiler until cheese melts and becomes a little crusty. Sprinkle with basil and serve with marinara.

Sichuan Green Beans

Among other things, my mom instilled in me a deep love of Sichuan green beans. That sweet, spicy, sticky glaze sends me over the moon. I am sorry to be the one to tell you this (if you didn’t already know), but  most restaurant versions are deep fried. That doesn’t entirely cross it off my list, but I do sort of stop counting it as a “veggie” if it’s primary method of cooking is submersion in hot oil. Call me crazy.

Anywho, I found this recipe on Cooks for stir-fried Sichuan green beans and figured I’d give it a go. I edited it a bit, mostly to eliminate some ground pork. Not that pork wouldn’t be good, but I want a veggie dish. Plus, cutting out the pork, but keeping the sauce the same means that the beans are extra saucy and I like that. Boom

Here they are with an Asian cucumber salad and some of those frozen shrimp potstickers I chefed up awhile back:

  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T dry sherry (or vermouth, in a pinch)
  • 1 t sugar
  • ½ t cornstarch
  • ¼ t white pepper
  • ¼ t red pepper
  • ¼ t dry mustard
  • 2 T water
  • 2 T veggie oil
  • 1 lb green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 scallions, white and green thinly sliced
  • 1 t toasted sesame oil
  1. Stir together soy sauce, sherry, sugar, cornstarch, white pepper, pepper flakes, mustard, and water until sugar dissolves; set aside.
  2. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot (just smoking). Add beans and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender and skins are shriveled and blackened in spots, 5 to 8 minutes. If beans darken too quickly, reduce heat to medium-high.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-high and add garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant (~20 seconds). Stir sauce to recombine and add to pan. Toss and cook until sauce is thickened, 5 to 10 seconds.
  4. Remove pan from heat and stir in scallions and sesame oil. Serve immediately and ENJOY!

Tomato Gratin

I heard about this recipe on Smitten Kitchen (shocker) and then saw it pop up in a few other places. I haven’t had the best tomato summer, so I was looking for something to do with less than oh-my-god-this-is-heaven tomatoes. This definitely did the job. The tomato flavor comes through like a punch to the jaw, it’s easy, can be made days in advance and is a generally excellent veggie entree.

We had it 3 times so far….

1. Tomato gratin + green beans with toasted garlic + an insanely delicious salad of arugula, fresh cherries, marcona almonds, shaved parrano and balsamic vinaigrette

2. The next morning with a fried egg on top

3. Tomato gratin + asparagus with bacon and parm + a great salad of chopped romaine, shredded havarti dill, shredded carrots, tomatoes, chopped egg and a green chile Caesar dressing

The second time I made it, I went too light on the croutons and it was too loose and lacked some substance. Learn from my mistakes.

  • 3  Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups diced bread, in a 1/2 inch dice with crusts removed (a good french bread works well, but just nothing sour)
  • 1 1/2 lb tomatoes, 1/2 inch dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 Cup fresh slivered basil
  • 1 Cup grated Parm
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Heat oil in large pan over medium high. Add croutons and toast thoroughly.
  2. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Let sit at least 3 minutes to release some juices
  3. When croutons are toasted, add tomato mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Place in casserole dish (it won’t rise, so it can be pretty full) and top with cheese.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly. 

Mustard roasted potatoes

As I know I’ve mentioned before, I am not a potato girl. Just not my favorite “vegetable.” If I’m going to do a starch at dinner, I would much rather bread, pasta, cous-cous, sweet potato, rice, etc. Basically anything else. BUT, I really liked this recipe a lot. It’s a keeper for sure. Easy and delicious. The potatoes end up with a nice crust, a meaty yummy flavor, and a nice tang. What more could you ask for? The recipe here is halved, so feel free to double it. If doubling, just use two baking sheets and alternate levels as directed in recipe.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 pounds small unpeeled new/red bliss potatoes cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges

  1. Position 1 rack in top third of oven and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Spray 1 large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  2. Whisk ¼ cup mustard, olive oil, butter, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, garlic, oregano, lemon peel, and salt in large bowl to blend. Add potatoes; sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper and toss to coat.
  3. Place potatoes in prepared baking sheet, taking care to leave any excess mustard mixture behind in bowl. Spread potatoes in single layer.
  4. Roast potatoes 25 minutes at lower level, and then transfer to higher rack. Roast until potatoes are crusty outside and tender inside, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes longer.
  5. While potatoes are roasting, add remaining mustard and lemon juice to the bowl with mustard mixture and whisk to blend. When potatoes are done, transfer back to bowl and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you like (I did), pop back in over on high level for 5 minutes to just crisp up and reheat.