Friday, September 30, 2011

Lauren Lately: Veggies with Goat Cheese, Lemon or in Pasta Sauce

Most of my meals are not documentation worthy, however I still enjoy preparing and eating them. "Lauren Lately" is a series that will feature a few go-to items in my dinner rotation on those nights when I want to cook, but don't have the gumption to create a blog-worthy meal.

1) Roasted Veggies with Chili Oil & Goat Cheese  
  • Sturdy vegetables, i.e. turnips, beets, carrots, butternut squash, peppers, onions, potatoes and/or parsnips
  • Chili Oil
  • Goat Cheese
  • Salt, Pepper and an Herb (dried or fresh thyme, sage or rosemary)
  • Preheat oven to 375. 
  • Peel, clean and chop vegetables into 1-inch cubes. If squash or potato heavy, consider smaller cubes or 3 minutes in the microwave to speed cooking time.
  • Toss cubes with salt, pepper, chili oil to coat and a few dashes of herbs. Personally, I'm in a dried thyme phase.
  • In a roasting pan or tinfoil boat (much less clean up!), roast the vegetable for 35-45 minutes, tasting for readiness.
  • Remove from the oven.  While piping hot, mix in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of goat cheese which will melt into a tangy and perfect coating.
2) Steamed Veggies with Lemon Olive Oil
  • Green vegetables, e.g. Pole beans, string beans, broccoli, chard, kale, snap peas and/or brussel sprouts
  • Lemon Olive Oil
  • Clean, trim and chop green vegetables into bite sized pieces.
  • Lightly steam (3-4 minutes for the soft greens, a minute + for the beans, a bit longer for broccoli or brussels). Steam in a glass dish with water in the microwave, stove top in a steamer basket or in a set like ours. Just avoid steaming in plastic, a no-no according to my dietitian friend, because of possible chemical transfer (phthalates and BPA, eek!).
  • Toss the veggies with a few glugs of artisanal lemon flavored olive oil* and serve along side grilled chicken or fish. 
  • If you don't have lemon olive oil on hand, combine a few healthy squirts of fresh lemon juice with regular olive oil, (then read the note below and contemplate an order!)
*Nudo Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Lemon has been a secret obsession of mine since reading about it in this newsletter.  Simple salad dressing or on veggies as above it is delish. Its so NOT LOCAL, I almost didn't fess up. However the eco-friendly merits slightly cleared my conscious since: a) Nudo farms organically, b) They market a lovely adopt an olive tree program and c) They employ a policy to ship by sea and land wherever possible. The chili oil in the roasted veg recipe above is also Nudo, and a part of their "Three Tenors" trio (Hello holiday or housewarming gift!)

3) Pasta with A Quick Homemade Sauce
When I first went "public" with this blog, a dear friend jokingly remarked she enjoyed it even though heating up pasta sauce was daunting to her.  I laughed... then started obsessing about quick homemade sauce recipes for her.  Below are my general guidelines.  Is the end result fine-dining? Probably not. Is it an easy and enjoyable homemade supper? You betcha.

Ingredients (must have and totally 100% optional)
  • A large white onion
  • Herbs of some sort (basil, thyme, oregano)
  • 4-6 fresh tomatoes or a a can of whole tomatoes
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Pasta
  • 100% totally optional ingredients: Protein (ground chicken, sausage, lamb etc.), Fennel, Carrot, Celery, Garlic, Hot Pepper Flakes or Cayenne
  • Meat base: Over medium heat, break up and begin to brown the ground or chopped protein of your choosing (turkey, chicken, beef, lamb, veal, sausage). About 1/4th a pound per person, though the end result will easily freeze if you have left overs. I love meat combination's here (lamb and veal, chicken and sausage) and just as often stick with straight veggies. 
  • Veggie base: Add a few glugs of olive oil to a saute pan and continue.  
  • Add one half a chopped onion to the meat or olive oil (or a full onion if serving more than 4 people), and saute over medium heat until glistening.  If you have it on hand, this is where you can add chopped fennel, carrots or celery sauteing it all for 5-7 minutes.
  • Add freshly chopped tomatoes (4 for two people, more for additional eaters), or a can of tomatoes to the pan, and lower heat to medium low. 
  • Add in the chopped or dried herbs (a pinch of dried oregano, a few full basil leaves...its not scientific), and a few cranks of salt and pepper. 
  • Optional: Add 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic, and/or a dash of cayenne or a dash of hot pepper flakes to kick it up notch.
  • Cook for 15-20 minutes, mixing every 5 minutes or so to break down the tomatoes.
  • Meanwhile, bring pasta to a boil on the neighboring burner. When it's done, add 1/2 cup of starchy water from boiling the pasta to the sauce pan to loosen it up. 
  • Pasta + sauce + grated cheese = dinner in about an 35 minutes including chopping.

1 comment:

  1. I think that this section is wonderful and I look forward to seeing more of your "go tos". Jessie


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