Sunday, July 30, 2006

A walk on the veggie heavy side...

So, I've decided that my veggie kitchen will be producing lighter fare in the weeks to come. There may still be baking for M.'s office folks, but the french tarts and tartes tatins will have to wait a bit. All this travelling and vacationing has left me feeling somewhat heavy from eating in restaurants that use much more butter/oil then I do. As a result, I'm craving nonstop fresh fruits and veggies, and this is certainly the time of year to indulge.

First of all, I must show off the omelet M. made me for lunch today. M. tends to be a very inventive cook. Give me a recipe, and I'm a happy girl but M. likes to push the envelope a bit more. Sometimes this results in amazingly tasty concoctions, sometimes not so much. Today fell into the amazingly tasty category. He chopped fresh herbs (oregano, rosemary and thyme) and added them to the egg mixture component of the omelette. I would never have thought to do so (I would have added the herbs to the sauteed vegetables instead) but the result was so flavorful and above and beyond the standard omelet.

After the dust settled (and the dishes were washed), I set about trying a new hummus recipe. We're big fans of hummus, but have stopped making it since we have an amazing Middle Eastern grocery on the next block which makes it in bulk amounts for a minimal price. Why reinvent the wheel? But, in an attempt to make as much at home as possible (so as to minimize unwanted ingredients like too much oil etc), I decided to whip up a batch to have with carrots and cucumbers for a snack. When I drastically lighten our diets, I like to send M. to work with snacks so that he's not chained to a desk wasting away with hunger. This hummus will do nicely. All in all, the recipe was good but not great. It's a Weight Watchers recipe, and in my experience WW recipes are either awesome or just alright. The texture was a little runny, but then I just dumped 6 oz. of plain fat free yogurt into the mix without measuring out a half a cup so that might be cook's error. The flavor was good, it was just the runniness that was a touch off-putting.

But, falling squarely into the awesome WW recipe category were the two dishes I made for dinner. We started with a Roasted Vegetable and Tofu Napoleon which consisted of seared tofu slices with roasted peppers, onions and zucchini in between. The recipe should have included eggplant, but my brain did not register this fact when copying down ingredients so our napoleons remained eggplant-less. Both M. and I were impressed by how flavorful the resulting dish was, and agreed that the tofu benefited from the simple but tangy preparation. I would make this dish again.

As a main dish, I made Grecian Spaghetti Squash Saute. Chickpeas, diced tomatoes, mint and feta- this dish combined several of our favorite flavors. Halfway through making it, I realized I'd made it before but not in a very long time. I had a sort of recipe deja vu. Since I already had the oven on for the roasting vegetables, I roasted the spaghetti squash as well. This dish came together quickly, and if using the microwave cooking method would definitely be doable on a busy weeknight. I served this dish with fresh corn since the combination of the two dishes had meant lots of chopping etc, and I wasn't going to make anything else! This kitchen was closed, and the chef on strike. :) But it felt great to be cooking again.

Grecian Spaghetti Squash Saute
Weight Watchers Recipe
Serves 4

WW notes - This unusual and delicious take on spaghetti squash is great as a main dish, or as a side dish paired with grilled or broiled fish or chicken, or roast leg of lamb. Red pepper flakes will add extra kick

My notes - Red pepper flakes would have been good, I'd add them next time.

2 pound raw spaghetti squash
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup scallion(s), sliced
2 tsp minced garlic
14 1/2 oz canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp lemon zest, freshly grated
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup dill, or mint, fresh, chopped
1/4 cup pot cheese, or fat-free crumbled feta

  1. Pierce squash with a fork in several places; place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high, turning squash over every 3 minutes, until tender, about 12 to 15 minutes; let stand 5 minutes. (Or to bake squash, preheat oven to 350ºF. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place squash, cut side down, in a large baking dish and prick skin all over with a fork. Bake until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.)

  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add scallions and garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, chickpeas, oregano, lemon zest, salt and pepper; bring to a boil.

  3. Cut cooked squash in half lengthwise; scrape out seeds and then scrape strands of squash into skillet with a fork. Cook, stirring, until squash strands are well coated; remove from heat and stir in dill or mint. Top each serving with cheese. Yields about 1 cup of squash and 1 tablespoon of cheese per serving.

Roasted Vegetable and Tofu Napoleon
Serves 4

4 sprays cooking spray
1 large red onion(s)
1 medium raw eggplant, peeled
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow pepper(s)
1 medium sweet red pepper(s)
1 pound extra firm tofu
1 Tbsp rosemary, fresh, chopped
3 Tbsp parsley, fresh, chopped
3 large garlic clove(s)
1 Tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, about the juice from one lemon

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.

  2. Slice onion in half and then cut each half into quarters. Slice eggplant, zucchini (slice diagonally) and peppers into 1/4-inch slices. Slice tofu across into 8 slices, about 1/4-inch thick.

  3. Place onions on one half of a baking sheet and peppers on other half. Place eggplant and zucchini separately on second baking sheet. Coat tops of vegetables with cooking spray. Roast 15 minutes and then rotate baking sheets; roast 15 minutes more. Turn off oven and leave vegetables in oven to keep warm.

  4. Place rosemary, parsley and garlic in bowl of food processor. Add oil and lemon juice and blend until smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes; set aside.

  5. Spread herb mixture onto both sides of each tofu slice. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Place tofu in heated pan and brown both sides of tofu, about 2 to 4 minutes per side.

  6. To serve, place one slice of tofu on a plate. On top of tofu, stack one slice of eggplant, one slice of red pepper and one wedge of red onion; top with another slice of tofu and then top that with one slice each of yellow pepper and zucchini, and another piece of red onion. Drizzle with remaining herb mixture. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Yields one napoleon per serving.

[Will be posted tomorrow, as it requires typing unlike the two previous recipes which I found online!]

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crystal said...

The spaghetti squash sounds delicious! We make our own hummus, too, just canned chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, a bit of cumin, a bit of garlic, (add the chickpea liquid as needed to reach desired consistency) and whatever else we have on hand...fresh basil or sun-dried tomatoes or parsley...and throw it all in the food processor. Not authentic, but still yummy.

helios said...

Thanks Crystal! The squash was delicious - I forget how tasty spaghetti sqaush can be. And your recipe sounds great - I'll have to try hummus a la Crystal sometime. :)