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Posts Tagged ‘vegetable’

Leaving Mother’s Day fare in our wake, for tonight we decided on simple vegetable grilled sandwiches. We used a marinated portobello with garlic and vinegars, red pepper and almond puree, caramelized onions with spinach and basil leaves on a ciabatta bun. It’s one of my go-to recipes for an easy yet healthy meal. I put this one together in the 70s when I had a limited budget and a co-op membership. And yes, I made the ciabatta with all its holes.  Served with a herb and mixed green salad, homemade balsamic vinaigrette and a Sancerre wine to complement. As a surprise I had fresh strawberries as a condiment instead of anything brined and it worked beautifully.

portobello with red pepper romesco sandwich

A great way to utilize leftover vegetables from Mother’s Day and have an easy meal free of time consuming cooking.

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I have a love of foods that are stuffed.  I adore the original one dish meal that comprises several ingredients, or even just a few, stuffed into either a vegetable, pasta or a protein.  Even a twice-baked potato brimming with healthy additions is a joy.

With spring giving way to summer soon, I’m excited about all the heirloom tomatoes in our garden.  It was time to begin testing some recipes for those precious heirlooms.  I came up with a wonderful dish that is sure to please.  However, it’s an old-fashioned recipe in that it isn’t a recipe at all.  It’s more directional and you need to use your own instincts where amounts are concerned.

So, this is what I did:  I cored and seeded my tomatoes.  I sliced my homegrown leeks in half and then sliced them thinly crosswise and added to them to a sauté pan over medium heat.  After a few minutes, as the leeks were beginning to caramelize, I added my homegrown spinach.

While that pair cooked, I chopped several mushrooms and some fresh jalapeno.  Then I chopped a couple of garlic cloves.

As the spinach wilted down, I put the mushrooms and jalapeno in the sauté pan with a pinch of salt and pepper.  When they softened, I added the garlic until it was aromatic.

When everything was cooked, I removed it from the heat.  At this point, I mixed in about 1-2 tablespoons of goat cheese.  I mixed the vegetables with the goat cheese until the cheese melted into a light and tangy sauce.

I stuffed each tomato with the vegetable and goat cheese mixture.  Then I set them under the broiler just until the tomato softened.

I sprinkled the tomatoes with homegrown chopped chives and served them hot.

You can serve these with a protein or a pasta dish or even just some more vegetables.

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Occasionally, when I want to serve an expensive main course, I search for less expensive sides to even out the plate.  Last week I chose onions, but in one of those odd synchronistic moments, three of us shopped for food.  The result was a glut of onions.  In fact, pounds of onions.

Onions keep really well but we had so many onions that it was doubtful that they would all survive even with the quantity of cooking we do around here.

Each of us bought some fresh salmon also so we had plenty of main course ingredients!  That’s an easy fix though: salmon grilled, salmon cakes and salmon in frittata for breakfast.  So, I went to work on creating side dishes from onions.  This is when I became thankful for the Gratin!

A gratin is any dish wherein the ingredients are topped with cheese and/or breadcrumbs and then heated until the topping is all browned and crispy making a crunchy crust.  They are usually assembled in ovenproof, shallow containers that allow large surface areas to insure that the topping will be crisp.  A gratin can also be referred to as “au gratin” or “gratinée.”

Here’s my simple side created as an accompaniment to my grilled salmon.  It’s a simple and frugal Onion Gratinée.

Onion Gratinée

2 very large onions (mine were almost a pound apiece)

Olive oil for drizzling over the onions

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

¼ cup white wine (choose something dry like a chardonnay)

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (use gluten free if you are gluten intolerant)

¼-scant ½ cup Parmesan, Romano or Gruyère cheese (I had a smattering of each so I combined them into just over a ¼ cup of cheese.  It’s a loose measurement in this case.)

Optional: seasoned breadcrumbs to cover the casserole.

(If you are gluten intolerant, you can omit the breadcrumbs without compromising the flavor or quality of this recipe.)

Preheat the oven to 450˚.

Peel and slice the onions into thick rounds.

Lay the rounds in an oiled baking sheet.  Keep them in a single layer.

Drizzle the onions with olive oil or brush them to coat.

Season the onions with salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  At this point, the onions should become translucent and even show a touch of golden brown.

While the onions bake, combine the wine, heavy cream and Dijon mustard in a saucepan over medium high heat, stirring to combine.  Bring the mixture to a bubbling and turn off the heat.

By now, the onions should be finished baking.  Remove them from the baking sheet and put them into your gratin pan or a shallow casserole.

Pour the cream mixture over the onions.  Return the onions to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven.

Top the casserole with the breadcrumbs (if using) and the grated cheese.  Return to the oven until the top is golden brown, approximately 10-12 minutes more.

This recipe is quite flexible so increase the quantities if necessary.  Using these ingredients, the recipe yielded 6 moderate sized servings.  You can supplement the onions with leeks and shallots too.

Serve while hot!

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