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Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Something different tonight.  The first part of the week was a fabulous food week!  It is best to end it the same way!  I picked up some sea scallops, which are one of my favorite sea foods!  Asparagus is fresh at the market this week.  Here we go for one of the best gourmet meals at home.  Please note, I live in a rural area so this is a real treat for us!

  • 10 sea scallops, patted dry
  • 10 slice smoked bacon, cooked halfway
  • 1 c fresh asparagus spears, 1 inch chunks
  • 1 c fresh tomato, diced, seeds removed
  • 1/4 c Kalamata olives, diced
  • 1 c high fiber pasta
  • 1/4 c fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded

Wrap each scallop in a partially cooked bacon slice, secured with a toothpick. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring 5 c water to a boil, seasoned with salt.  Cook pasta according to directions.  Add asparagus 2 minutes before the pasta is done, Drain and reserve.

Heat a heavy skillet or grill pan to medium heat. Season the pan with extra virgin olive oil.  Sear the scallops 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through,  By drying the scallops, you should get a nice sear on them.

Drain the pasta. Add the pesto, tomato, diced olives  and drained pasta/asparagus to the pot  Toss and top with Parmesan  cheese.

I kind of live in a rural area where most dining places offer some kind of beef with an iceberg salad and corn (nothing green).  So, this is really something special  Seafood and greens!  Simple, fast and so so good!  The best part is that the pesto pasta works just as good for a cold salad lunch the next day!  

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Eggplant Something

I found myself a lovely eggplant at the grocer the other day.  As I was reaching for it, hon asks “Are having eggplant this week?
YES!   I think that eggplant is such a lovely fruit.  The creamy, buttery flavor makes my heart melt.  Plus, it is so easy to add into other dishes (such as spaghetti sauce) and no one is the wiser.  This pretty little fruit is full of vitamins like B6, K, Folate, potassium, fiber and a multitude of minerals.  It really is good for you if you don’t fry it in a kettle of fat!

I still had some brown tomatoes so I thought a nice light Italian “salsa’ might be a nice addition. So what we end up with is crunchy (not fried) eggplant discs topped with a dollop of Italian “salsa.  This would be nice as a side dish or an appetizer.

Italian “Salsa”

  • 1/2 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 2 TB fresh basil, julienned
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Eggplant Discs

  • 1 eggplant, sliced in 1/2 inch slices (you can peel if you want)
  • 1/2 c flour mixed with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 egg mixed with 2 TB skim milk
  • Fresh bread crumbs mixed with 1/4 c grated Parmesan and 2 tsp dry Italian seasoning
  • Cooking spray

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Dip the discs in flour, then egg mixture then roll in bread crumb mixture.  Place on baking sheet and spritz with cooking spray.  Bake until the breadcrumbs are toasty and the eggplant is tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.  Top with provolone or mozzarella cheese during the last 5 minutes if you like.

Assembly

Place a disc on a plate.  Top with the Italian “salsa”.  Enjoy!

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Veggie Lasagna

Ok. So this is not the easiest, a little labor intensive.  But, oh so worth it!

Hon says “how can it be lasagna without meat?”.  I say, “Just give it a try, it’ll be good!”.  And it was!   Don’t forget the mozzarella or Provolone cheese for the top!

Just kidding! Not really, that is what the plate looked like when he was done!  Here is before we ate:

First, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Then…

  • 1/2 c chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 1/2 c chopped carrot
  • 1/2 c chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 c chopped bell pepper (I used sweet red)
  • 14 oz can diced tomato, drained

Mix this stuff together, saute` in 1 TB extra virgin olive oil and set aside.

  • 1 c low fat ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c fresh basil pesto
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix together and set aside.

  • 9 lasagna  noodles, par boiled about 6-7 minutes, drained

Reserve.

  • 2 TB butter
  • 2-3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 TB flour
  • 2 c flour
  • Salt and pepper

Melt butter over medium low heat, add garlic and cook about a minute.  Whisk in the flour.  Whisk in the milk until slightly thickened (about 5 minutes).  Add 1/4 tsp salt and pepper to taste.

Spray baking dish (9×6 is what I used).  Spread 1/4 c sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Layer as follows:

  1. Noodles
  2. Ricotta/pesto mix
  3. Shredded mozzarella (1/4-1/2 per layer)
  4. Veggie mix
  5. Repeat 1 through 4 three times

Layer the top with mozzarella or Provolone.   Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until the cheese on top is lightly browned.   I was going to add eggplant to the veggie mix but, maybe next time!  This would be perfect with some shredded cooked chicken or perhaps, some shrimp!  Yum!

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Caprese Salad

Wandering through the grocery store the other day, I spied a tomato that I had not yet tried ~ brown tomato.  Ah, I am craving one of my favorite salads ~ tomato & mozzarella salad.  It is hard to find delicious tomatoes this time of the year where I live.  This brown tomato was absolutely delicious ~ sweet, juicy and of course, very pretty!

This is not a new salad and definitely not my own!  But I so love it, especially in the summer when tomatoes are at their peak.  It is so simple and the flavors of the fruit come through so delectably!

  • Fresh tomatoes (use a variety for an attractive dish – I used a brown and a red tomato), sliced about 1/4 inch thick
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced about a 1/4 inch thich
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves, juilienned

Arrange the tomato slices and mozzarella slices on a plate to your liking.  Drizzle with 1-2 TB olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle fresh basil shreds over top.  Enjoy and dream about summer!

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I love  curry!  This stems back to grad school from one of my study groups.  We were getting together for a year end exam cram session.  Our Indian friend offered to cook chicken curry.  That, honestly, was the first time I ever ate authentic curry!  The thing about curry is that everyone makes it differently.  I have read many, many, many curry recipes and have kind of tailored mine to what I have on hand on the day I am making it.  Tonight, we have the following, including one of my favorite vegetables – eggplant:

  • 3 to 4 chicken thighs, skinless (I leave the bone in as I think it adds flavor)
  • 1-2 TB olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup eggplant, peeled and diced (I actually froze some from my garden so I had some on hand)
  • 1 cup sweet, frozen peas – thawed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TB fresh grated ginger (tip – buy the ginger fresh and keep it in your freezer, grate what you need and return to the freezer)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, fat free
  • 2-3 TB  Curry Powder (I used Penzey’s Hot Curry Powder). However, I would suggest using what you like – some like it hot and some like it sweeter.  Curry is a very individual thing.  There is definitely something for everyone!

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and 1 tsp of the curry powder.

Heat oil in heavy, deep pan (I used a 4 inch deep coated cast iron).

Brown seasoned chicken thighs in oil.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion and eggplant to pan and saute’ until onions are translucent.

Add minced garlic and grated ginger.  Simmer about a minute.

Add chicken stock & water.  Nestle the browned chicken thighs into the liquid. Add the remaining curry powder.  Simmer covered for about a half hour to an hour, turning thighs occasionally.

Remove cover.  Continue simmering for a bit longer until the chicken is tender.

Okay…  at this point, I got a call from a neighbor about his dog, Zelda (she is a wonderful dog – oh! by the way, did I mention, I love dogs!).  Fortunately, it appeared that she might just have an ear infection.  I cleaned Zelda’s ears and recommended he seek the services of our local veterinarian in the morning.

The beauty of this recipe is you can shut the burner off (cover the pot) for an hour (mind the 2 hour rule to avoid our not-so-much-friend, Mr. Sal Manilla).  So! If you took a break, reheat the pot then…

Add coconut milk and heat through.  Add thawed peas.

Stir in Greek yogurt and serve over cooked jasmine rice.  Yum!  I added an extra dollop of yogurt on top for fun!

Now I don’t know if peas really belong but I really like them in curry.  I know eggplant definitely belongs!  The rich, buttery goodness…  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.  I see raisins and diced apple in curry quite often.  I like adding apples but I am not so fond of the raisins (just a personal preference). I think fresh chopped cilantro is delicious (I did not have any on hand, again!).  I think that curried dishes are very flexible and can definitely be made to an individual’s taste.

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It is my understanding that orecchiette means “little ears”, which is kind of funny when you think about it.  “What did you have for dinner last night?  Ears.”  Hm.

Anyway, in digging through the refrigerator today, I found some bell peppers, smoked sausage and green onions.  I was thinking about a shape of pasta that would hold up to the heartiness of the sausage. I found a box of orecchiette in my pantry.  This little pasta is great for sauces because the little “ears” hold on to the sauce.  I figured if I diced the sausage and veggies, it would go well.  So here we go ~ an adventure in cooking, no recipe needed! (Ok, I did write down what I used for your convenience).  Enjoy!

  • 4 oz lean smoked sausage, diced
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 c sweet bell peppers, diced (I used red, yellow and orange)
  • 1 c green onions, cut into about a 1/2 inch slice
  • 1 c small fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c blanched kale, chopped
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • 4 oz orechiette pasta

Cook pasta according to instructions on the box in salted water.  Drain and reserve pasta water.

In heavy skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add red pepper and cook for a minute to release the heat from the pepper.  Sear sausage in the skillet until lightly browned.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

Add peppers and mushrooms to the same skillet and saute` for a few minutes. Add onions and garlic, saute` another minute or two. Remove veggies to the same bowl the sausage is reserved in.

Add white wine to the skillet along with 1/2 c reserved pasta water.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape any crunchies from the bottom of the skillet.  Let the liquid reduce by about half.  Add the kale and heat through.

Return the sausage and veggies to the skillet.  Add the pasta and toss well.  Cook just long enough to heat through.

On a side note, I really like mustard seeds in my smoked sausage.  I love when I bite into a little mustard seed, feel the pop in my mouth and the release of the yummy spiciness of the mustard!  The sausage I used did not have any mustard seeds in it.  So, I pickled some mustard seeds and tossed them in.  If you want to add these little gems of spiciness to your dish, just do the following:

  • 2 TB mustard seeds
  • 2 TB malt vinegar
  • 1/3 c chicken or beef broth

Mix all in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove the seeds and discard the liquid.  And, there you go!


This dish actually turned out really delicious.  Very colorful too.  The kale was actually an afterthought to give the dish a shot of fiber, but it worked!  There were a lot of textures with the pasta, sausage, crispy veggies and the kale has a texture all its own.  Some people think kale is just for garnish but it is chock full of fiber and vitamins and so good for you!

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Puree`d Parsnips

If you have never had parsnips, I so encourage you to try them!  They are kinda like carrots, but white… and sweeter and kinda peppery!  All I can say is YUM!  I absolutely love them with Brussels sprouts, tossed and roasted in olive oil with grill seasoning.  But tonight, they are puree`d and delicious all the same.

I have tried to grow parsnips for years!  Last summer, I was finally successful!  Beautiful! Most are still in the garden because they actually taste better in the spring after they were frozen in the ground all winter!  However, the winter has been a little mild, not much snow and ice.  So, I went out and dug some up and they are just as tasty!  You can purchase parsnips at your local grocer, but they will not taste as sweet!  No shame though, I have done that and I love parsnips just that much!

1 lb parsnips, peeled and diced abput 1/2 cubes

1 1/2 c chicken stock

Simmer the parsnips is chicken stock until they are “fork” tender.

Drain the parsnips, reserving the cooking liquid.

To a blender, add the parsnips, 1/2 c reserved cooking liquid, 1-2 TB butter, a pinch of fresh ground nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper. Puree` until smooth.  Add additional liquid a TB at a time until it is puree`d smoothly in the blender.

Stir in the chopped fresh parsley.

Oh my goodness! This is seriously one of the best comfort foods ever!

If you so desire, stir in a little fresh grated Parmesan cheese!

So simple! So good! So delicious!  I’m hungry…

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