Thursday, October 30, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday on a Thursday: Three Veggies/three meals - variations on a theme

Please go to Shan's place for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

So, I'm still using up CSA produce and supplementing it with the last goodies from our Farmers Market, which is shrinking, shrinking, shrinking in terms of merchant participation, especially on Wednesdays.

I still have glorious onions and garlic (I'm not counting the garlic as one of the "three"), and I couldn't resist getting more gorgeous baby eggplants. To supplement all this, I decided to try Tantre Farm's oyster mushrooms, which may be the best mushrooms I've ever eaten. Here's a little pic of my "palette"

And that's the only pic you're going to get, other than one for my third variation - my camera just wasn't in the right place at the right time.

So here goes - Three Veggies/Three Meals - Variations on a Theme

Basic Method:

Very, very simple.

2 sliced garlic cloves (I minced these for the frittata.
1/2 chopped onion
2 baby eggplant, chopped
5 (but these are HUGE) oyster mushrooms, chopped
olive oil

Basically, I heated a little olive oil over medium heat, threw in the garlic for about 30 seconds, added the onion and the eggplant, turned the heat to medium low, cooked for about 2 minutes, added the mushrooms and returned the heat to medium. I cooked this mixture until the veggies were just barely soft.

Meal #1: Cavatappi with Pasta Sauce

You can't get much better than basic, in my book.

To the basic mix I added a little white wine and Trader Joe's pasta sauce starter (basically just tomatoes, onions and garlic), about a TBS of dried basil, a 1/2 TBS of kosher salt and lots of black pepper.

I simmered all this for about 10 minutes, cooked up the cavatappi, and tossed everything together, grating a little fresh parmigiano reggiano on top.

It was completely delicious, and probably our favorite of the three.

Meal #2: Roast Squash-Brown Rice casserole

I guess I was feeling nostalgic for the 70s on some level.

I roasted a delicata squash earlier in the day - just pierced it a few times and baked it at 400.

I seasoned the veggie mix with Montreal steak seasoning (probaby a 1/2 TBS) and lots of chili powder (that didn't have enough UMPH, as it turned out)

When I was ready to put things together, I cut open the delicata, scraped out the seeds, and scraped the flesh into a bowl. I added 1 cup of brown rice, the veggie mix and 1/4 cup of reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar. I mixed this together, put it in a small casserole dish and put another 1/4 cup of the cheddar on top. I baked it with foil for 10 minutes at 375, and without foil for 10 more.

Analysis - this was the loser. However, I think it *could* be a winner with the following changes:

Layer the casserole:

Put the veggie mixture first, then the squash pulp, mashed, and finally a mixture of the rice and cheese.

Skip the chili powder and use 1 tsp cumin and a chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce instead.

Use... um... good cheese. Real cheese? Use less, but use something that actually melts and has flavor.

I'm willing to try this again - it had potential.

Day number three was much more successful, and I even have a pic:

Meal #3: Autumn Frittata

Spice the basic veggie mix with lots of Montreal steak seasoning.

Beat 2 eggs and 4 egg whites with a 1/2 TBS kosher salt and LOTS of smoked paprika (maybe 2 tsp?).

Keep the veggies on medium as you finish sauteeing, and add the egg mixture. Stir the center of the frittata until somewhat set. Crumble 4 oz of Feta over the frittata. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes.

This was total yum.

All three meals were frugal, easy and at least two were delicious. Good deal!


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Looks like you're cooking up a storm Jen!!!!!!!

Meg said...

This looks great but you really need to modify these things for those of us doing Atkins. ;)

Jen said...

Val - it's been a fun week.

Meg - hmmm... I think it's pretty much all Atkins friendly except for the pasta, right? You could easily serve that sauce on spaghetti squash. And the brown rice did nothing for that casserole. And you could even use good CHEESE. ;-) But if you're on the first phase then you can't use the veggies, right? I'm not sure I could make the veggie meals without the veggies, lol.

Ben said...

I am craving some of that autumn frittata right now. That's a great use of the ingredients :-p

thailandchani said...

Wow, you actually cook like this on a regular basis? :) That looks very good!


Jen said...

Ben - it was tasty - I love frittatas!

Chani, yes I do - but I love to cook. I also want to keep making my body healthy and stronger, so cooking like this really helps.

glamah16 said...

Oh wow! You have been cooking. And all very healthy.

Jen said...

I have been cooking, now that we have our lives back, but I keep forgetting pictures, recipes, etc. Got to get back on the stick!

Momisodes said...

Wow, these are nice and simple. I LOVE the first one with the mushrooms. I just went to Trader Joe's yesterday. I'll have to keep an eye out for the pasta sauce started next time :)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...


I do miss Trader Joes.

I also found out cooking with most reduced fat cheeses doesn't work. They don't melt correctly.

Skimmed shredded mozzarella is the exception.

Jen said...

Sandy, they all had the same veggie mix - it was just the variations with the mixes, and I so agree - I LOVE mushrooms!

NYC - Trader Joe's is a blessing. Good point on the cheeses - I use the reduced fat cheddar a lot, but in this particular dish I just subbed too much and nothing quite turned out right. I used reduced fat feta in the frittata and that worked fine. I use part skim mozz. quite a bit. Sometimes, though, simply less cheese, but GOOD cheese would make such a difference!

Anonymous said...

It looks and sounds so good and I don't even like eggplant! The frittata is making my mouth water. Is it okay if I just licked the screen?

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anno said...

Gah! I missed this one!

Well, you know me & eggplants, but mushrooms & onions are a winning combination wherever they appear. That frittata looks amazing!

Virtualsprite said...

That frittata looks amazing!

Jen said...

Dingo, Anno and Sprite - it's fine to leave out the eggplant - just make up for it with zucchini or more onions/mushrooms.

Kayla, thanks so much! I'll come check you out, too.

peter said...

Hooray for crazy make-em-ups.

Jen said...

You know it, Peter!

Goofball said...

do baby eggplants taste different from the adult ones, or just smaller format?

I'd definately go for the pasta dish if I had the choice.