Summer Veggie Bake

Summer Veggie Bake

This recipe is a lesson in patience, and it is absolutely worthwhile. Pick up a couple cold bottles of white wine, invite your closest friends, and start chopping. It’s time for Summer Veggie Bake therapy.

My sweet friend Mayme taught me this recipe over five years ago. At that point in my life, I only barely understood the value of patience, and was totally unable to exercise patience without support from others. I remember waiting in frustration for the onions to caramelize, and then anxiously again for the veggies to bake. 2 hours just seemed like a ridiculous amount of time to spend on dinner. But in the meantime we told stories, played card games, and had a beautiful evening. When the dish was finally done it tasted like heaven. Summer Veggie Bake has lessons to teach. Check it out.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 large sweet onions
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tsp. paprika
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 or 5 zucchini
  • 3 or 4 large tomatoes
  • A ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2/3 cup roughly chopped basil
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the onions and place them in a large sauté pan with the butter, olive oil, rosemary and a little salt to caramelize. This takes about 45 minutes. You can start the onions on medium-high heat to get them going, but be sure to turn them down to low after about five minutes. Stir occasionally.

Toast the breadcrumbs in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop the garlic. Mix the caramelized onions with toasted breadcrumbs, chopped garlic, paprika, and Parmesan cheese. Add more olive oil if the mixture seems overly dry.

In a deep baking dish, layer zucchini, tomatoes, and sliced fresh mozzarella. You can really add or substitute with any veggies that roast well. Sprinkle each layer of mozzarella with basil, olive oil, and a generous amount of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Top the layers of veggies and mozzarella with bread-parm-onion mixture. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes on 350 degrees.

Sautéed Sesame-Ginger Kale

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Let’s just be honest about kale right now. It’s good for you, so you feel good about eating it. It can be delicious, but only when prepared properly. When prepared raw in a salad it can be woody and dry. When cooked it can become soggy and sad.

This recipe does kale right. By briefly sautéing the kale with garlic it becomes soft and flavorful but maintains some of its structure and crunch. Stock and fish sauce give the dish just right amount of salt and are balanced out with rice vinegar and sesame. Yum!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil or peanut oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • 3 large carrots
  • ½ cup of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger*
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

INSTRUCTIONS
Chop the garlic and de-stem the kale. Tear the kale into small pieces and rinse in a colander. Peel and shred or thinly slice the carrots.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes until garlic is soft but not brown (you may need to lower the heat to prevent browning). Add the kale, carrots, and stock and raise heat to high. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and add ginger and fish sauce. Continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in rice vinegar and sesame seeds at the very end.

SERVES
3 to 4 people as a side

* ½ tsp. dried ginger can substitute in a pinch, just be sure to add it towards the end of cooking with the vinegar and other ingredients rather than at the beginning.

Lentil Salad with Feta & Balsamic

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I am totally addicted to this lentil salad. Maybe it’s that punchy garlic-balsamic dressing, or those cute little French lentils with the creamy interior, or the burst of sweetness from the grape tomatoes that has me hooked. But mostly likely it’s the combination of all of the above.

I really recommend using fresh ingredients for this recipe – i.e. garden fresh tomatoes and parsley, fresh feta from the cheese counter, etc. Believe me, it makes all the difference. And you don’t have to feel bad spending a couple extra bucks on fresh produce, because the recipe is quite affordable otherwise. Make it on Sunday and you have lunch for the week!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 and ½ cups French Lentils
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 and ½ cups grape or cherry tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup kalamata olives
  • ¾ cup of crumbled feta cheese

INSTRUCTIONS
Fill a medium saucepan about halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the lentils and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop or better yet press the garlic and add to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and salt. Finely chop enough parsley to fill a cup. Half the tomatoes and quarter the olives.

After 20 minutes of cooking, drain the lentils and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Give the dressing another quick whisk and add the lentils to the bowl. Gently combine the lentils and the dressing. Mix in the tomatoes, parsley and olives. Lastly, once the entire salad has cooled to room temperature, crumble in the feta cheese and give the salad one final stir. The salad can be eaten right away, but the flavors will enhance if you let it sit for 30 minutes or more.

SERVES
About 6 people

Poulet Curry Salad

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This curry chicken salad is simple, creamy, and fresh. In this recipe, inspired by my mom’s French-Canadian heritage, whole-roasted curry-rubbed chicken pieces make the perfect foundation for a rich and comforting sandwich. Throw in some sliced grapes for sweetness, roasted cashews for crunch, and chutney for an extra kick. Best lunch ever!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large chicken breasts (bone-in skin-on)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • About 3 tbsp. curry powder
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp. chutney (mango and peach are great options)
  • ½ cup roasted, chopped cashews
  • 1 cup halved grapes

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and curry powder. Drizzle with olive oil and rub spices and oil into the skin and meat. Flip the breasts and apply the same treatment to the other side. Note that you won’t use up all of the curry powder at this point, just enough to cover the chicken pieces. Pour chicken stock into the baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes.

When the chicken is done baking, spoon about a half-cup of the broth/drippings into a large mixing bowl and place it in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, let the chicken cool. This is also a good time to slice the grapes and roast and chop the cashews.

Remove the partially congealed broth from the fridge and whisk in mayonnaise, chutney, and remaining curry powder. Shred the chicken pieces with a fork or your fingers and add to the dressing. Add grapes, cashews, and salt and pepper to taste.

SERVES
About 6 people (as a sandwich)

Garlic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

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Sweet potatoes don’t need to be loaded down with butter and sugar to taste good. In fact I much prefer making the most of their natural sweetness by caramelizing them in the oven. I simply roast them on high heat with a couple complementary vegetables, such as leeks and turnips, and lots of garlic until fragrant and brown. Serve with greens and a simple protein, such as a fried egg (as pictured here). No need to overthink the rest of the meal, these roasted vegetables are plenty flavorful on their own!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 turnip
  • 2 large leeks
  • 6 to 8 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes and garlic and chop into half-inch pieces. Chop the leeks into half-inch rounds. Put the veggies in a large mixing bowl and douse with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix with a wooden spoon, adding more olive oil as needed to ensure that all veggies are lightly coated. Distribute the veggies between two large baking sheets.

Peel the garlic and place on a large piece of tinfoil. Fold up the edges of the tinfoil to create a little packet in which to roast the garlic. Just before cinching the packet, add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Seal the tinfoil packet and place in the corner of one of the baking sheets.

Roast the veggies for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and stir thoroughly. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes (I usually reverse the positioning of the pans at this point). Remove the veggies from the oven and return them to the mixing bowl. Open the garlic packet and mash or chop the roasted garlic cloves. Add the garlic to the mixing bowl and combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

SERVES
4 to 6 people

Coconut Cinnamon Granola

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I have always considered yogurt parfaits to be a totally decadent breakfast reserved for special occasions. But when I learned how to make my own granola I started eating yogurt parfaits several days of the week. By now I have experimented with granola quite a bit, and this is my favorite way to do it. The combination of coconut, cinnamon, and honey is nutty, rich, and subtly sweet. Serve over yogurt with fresh raspberries for a tasty treat!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ scant tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup dried coconut flakes
  • ½ cup pepitas
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Using a medium mixing bowl, melt the coconut oil in the microwave until it becomes liquid. Whisk in the honey, vanilla, and salt. Mix in the oats, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, pepitas, and cinnamon. Pour the granola mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the granola evenly in a ¼ inch thick layer. Bake for about 25 minutes, depending on how crunchy you prefer your granola. Less than 25 minutes will produce relatively blond, chewy granola, where as more than 25 minutes will produce a crunchier granola. If you leave the granola in for longer than 25 minutes keep an eye on it to ensure that it does not become overly brown (burnt).

SERVES
6 – 8 people

Curry Lime Shrimp Tacos

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This dish was a spontaneous dinner experiment that just turned OUT. Tacos are great because you can keep them simple as long as you have the right mix of flavors. In my opinion, the staple ingredients for a good taco include: a protein, some seasoning, corn tortilla, onion, cilantro, and lime. Check out this tasty variation, or make a few substitutions using whatever you have in the pantry!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cups dried coconut flakes
  • 2 large limes
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped fine
  • ½ large onion
  • About 5 radishes
  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb. uncooked shrimp (fresh or defrosted)
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Corn tortillas

INSTRUCTIONS
Toast the coconut flakes in the oven or on the stovetop until golden brown. While the coconut is toasting, squeeze one of the limes into a medium bowl. Add the honey and chopped cilantro and whisk. Chop the onion and radishes into small pieces and combine with the dressing.

Chop the garlic. Heat the coconut oil on medium-high in a large skillet, being careful not to burn the oil. Add the garlic and the shrimp. The shrimp should cover the bottom of the pan in an even layer, but if it doesn’t you should cook the shrimp in batches. Cook the shrimp until just pink on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove the pan from heat/burner. Transfer the shrimp to a cutting board to remove the tails and cut into ½ inch pieces. Put the shrimp pieces back into the pan with oil and garlic and add curry powder, toasted coconut, and salt to taste. Mix, adding more coconut oil if the mixture becomes dry.

Heat the tortillas per package instructions. Stack each tortilla with shrimp and radish salad. Serve with a beer and a couple lime wedges!

SERVES
4 people

Pea Soup with Lemon & Pepper

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This pea soup is simple and scrumptious. It’s best with really fresh and vibrant ingredients, but still quite tasty with good quality frozen peas (preferably organic). I like serving it café-style in a cup with a sandwich or a salad on the side.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 20 ounces fresh or frozen peas
  • ¼ cup fresh mint
  • ¼ cup fresh basil
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 1 large lemon or 1 ½ small lemons
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for garnish
  • Crumbled feta cheese for garnish
  • More parsley for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
Set up your workstation in advance because this recipe moves fast. In addition to the above ingredients, you will need a blender, a large saucepan, a cutting board, a lemon zester, and a good sharp knife.

Chop the onion. Add the butter to the saucepan over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble (but before it browns) add the onion and cook for 5 to 8 minutes until translucent. Add the stock and bring to a boil. While the stock is heating, chop the herbs. Also, zest the lemon into the pot then cut it in half and squeeze in all of its juices.

Once the stock is boiling add the peas. Be careful about timing here – you do not want to overcook the peas. If you’re using fresh peas I recommend cooking for 3 minutes. For frozen peas don’t cook for more than 2 minutes. In the couple minutes while the peas are cooking, add the chopped herbs and pepper to the pot. Pour the soup mixture and the Parmesan cheese into a blender and blend for about a minute. Add salt to taste and blend until smooth.

Top with toasted pepitas, feta, and/or chopped parsley.

SERVES
6 – 8 people

Poached Eggs in Smokey Garlic Tomatoes

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This tomato and egg dish is a favorite weeknight dinner and weekend brunch in my household. It is easy, filling, and between the tomatoes, garlic, feta, smoked paprika, and cumin has a great balance of flavor. It’s also packed with vitamins (C, K, A, B, E, D) protein, potassium, fiber, folate, calcium… the list goes on. I highly recommend for any time you’re craving a dish that is both healthy and satisfying.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 – 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small or medium onion
  • 4 – 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large jalapeño
  • 1 large russet potato *
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 3 tsp. smoked paprika**
  • One 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup of feta cheese crumbles
  • 5 – 6 eggs
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a deep-sided 12-inch skillet (we love to use cast iron for this) over medium-high. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and add it to the pan. While the onion starts to cook, chop the garlic and jalapeño, add to the pan, and stir. Peel and chop the potato and stir into the aromatics.

Let the potato cook for a few minutes until brown on one side before stirring. Continue to brown the potato for a few minutes longer before adding the cumin and paprika. Stir the mixture and allow it to cook one minute. Then add the tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes to reduce and allow flavors to develop. Be sure to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan upon adding the tomatoes.

After reducing the sauce gently incorporate the feta cheese. Then, create 5 or 6 divots in the sauce in which to crack the eggs. Carefully crack the eggs into the prepared divots and place the whole pan in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes the eggs might appear to be undercooked, but really should be cooked through with soft or partially runny yolks (I always second guess whether or not they are done, but that’s just because I am not used to seeing them cooked this way). Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

SERVES
5 – 6 people

* Some versions of this dish call for one 14.5 oz. can of garbanzo beans (drained) in place of the potato. I like both versions but my partner prefers potatoes, so that’s what we tend to use.

** You can also use mild or sweet paprika, but the smoky stuff gives the dish a wonderful flavor