Open Door

Belgian Endive Pear Boats

Endive Pear Boats

So far so good with the weather – Mother Nature is cooperating with the plan to end winter and signs of spring are everywhere.  A few of the Farmer’s Markets will be opening this weekend, with the BIG one for the area following next weekend!  I have a rather long list of vegetables that I want to try this year, including radishes (poor JT) and about five different types of greens.  Thanks for the /52weeksofcooking challenge I’ve already knocked one “green” of the list with this modified Belgian Salad.  When I tried to find a cuisine for the Belgian challenge I wasn’t that shocked to see all the not-so-vegetarian friendly food.  While Belgian Waffles were rather tempting (with Trader Joe’s cookie butter!!!), I’ve done waffles before and while I know that you don’t have to use a deep waffle iron for Belgian Waffles it just feels wrong to think about using a standard waffle iron – let alone using one!  So I decided to tackle the vegetable that kept popping up in so many dishes: endives.  I think I might have had an endive salad many moons ago at a wedding on the Cape but outside of a vague memory I couldn’t recall the taste.  However Pinterest was more than able to serve up a number of endive recipes, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to do one of the many cute boat designs that I saw.

Endive Pear Boats

Serves: Yields 8 Boats

Serves 4-8, as an appetizer or side

Ingredients

  • 2 small heads Belgian Endive, well washed
  • 2 Anjou Pears, cubed
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper - to taste
  • 1/4 cup Blue Cheese, crumbled (optional)

Instructions

  1. Remove the four largest outer leaves from the endives and place on a large plate, open side up. Set Aside
  2. Shred the remaining endive and place in a large bowl along with the pear and leek.
  3. In a small bowl (or dressing mixer) combine the olive oil, vinegar, and garlic. Beat (or shake) until fully mixed, then pour over the shredded endive mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Carefully stuff around 2 tbsp of the endive mixture into the prepare endive boats. Top with Blue Cheese Crumbles (optional) and Serve!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/04/open-door.html

In order to not kill my husband I dropped the nuts from the recipes I saw but those could easily be added back in for an extra crunch.  The tart endive was a great contrast to the sweetness of the pears, with the balsamic vinaigrette bringing it all together.   This would make a fantastic appetizer, especially since they act as their own plate!  I plan on trying this again in late summer, using some apples in place of the pears…or maybe in addition to.

Perfect Storm

Vegetable Quesadilla

veggie_quesadilla

Ignoring the random snow we had yesterday (none of which stuck), I think it might be safe to say that spring is finally here!  I am ready for the ground to thaw so that I can start clearing out all the old beds and start figuring out my plan for this year.  As far as gardening goes this year is going to be a pot garden, since there is no established garden at our new place and I have no idea what areas of the yard will get the right amount sun – with the exception of the patio.  The few flower beds in the front of the house are home to a few types of ivy, both poisonous and non, so odds are nothing new will get planted there until I know the nasty stuff is gone.  However the first step is going at least a week without frozen precipitation.  Today’s recipe is wishful thinking in that it features all the vegetables that I’m hoping to grow in my garden.   From tomatoes to spinach to red onion – this cheesy treat is packing with the good stuff!

Spring Vegetable Quesadilla

Serves: Yields 2 10inch quesadillas

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (for non-dairy be sure to use a "meltable" variety)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 10 inch tortillas
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup pre-soaked black beans, well rinsed
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced and deseeded (optional)
  • 1 cup spinach, shredded (make sure it's super dry)
  • 1 cup kale, shredded (make sure it's super dry)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl mix the shredded cheese/"cheese" with the cayenne powder, ground cumin, chili powder, and minced garlic. Set aside
  2. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla on the skillet and cook for 2 minutes before flipping. Place 2 tbsp of cheese on the tortilla, then layer with half of the tomatoes, spinach, kale, onions, and black beans. Place another 2 tbsp of cheese then top with another tortilla. Use a panini press or smaller skillet to weigh down the top of the quesadilla.
  3. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until lightly brown, and then gently (carefully!) flip to the other side. Repress the quesadilla and cook for a final 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove to a plate and allow to cool for 2 minutes before cutting up with a pizza slicer. Serve as is or with sour cream, salsa, and/or quacamole.

Notes

Avoid place two quasadillas in the same skillet as uneven cooking can result. For those of you with multi-tasking skills use two front burners to prepare two at a time!

http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/04/perfect-storm.html

I’ll always be a fan of dishes that allow for easy seasonal switches.  Garden overflowing with zucchini?  Toss them in!  Growing three types of tomatoes?  Add them all!  I decided to stick with the spring greens but look forward to trying a summer variety in the coming months.  With that in mind I’m sending this over to the amazing Ren and her  Simple and in Season April blog challenge, which is being hosted by Michelle who blogs over at Utterly Scrumptious  I can’t wait to see all the early Spring treats everyone will be sending in!!!

Shall I Be

One Pot Pasta

One Pot Pasta

I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit of a Pinterest nut.  I find so many interesting and tasty looking treats that I just can’t help but to “pin all the things!”  When I started seeing one-pot pasta meals I was intrigued as it goes against everything I was taught growing up regarding the proper cooking of pasta.  Which is why I was expecting this post to be more of a #pinterestfail than anything else, I just couldn’t imagine this working.  Just worked it did, after checking out almost half a dozen recipes.  I wanted to insure that my pasta was al dente and my vegetables cooked but not floppy – which isn’t exactly the easiest thing.  The first step was figuring out what vegetables have a similar cooking time, and what type of pasta was equal to or less than that cooking time.  I wanted the pasta to have the shortest cook time just in case the vegetables needed extra time, again al dente pasta is (and always will be) the goal for any pasta dish.  Luckily green vegetable are starting to show up at the market so I had a very large selection to pick from!

Shall I Be

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 6 basil leaves, minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp roasted red pepper flake
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 2 large carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
  • 8 oz penne (look for one with a 10 minute cook time)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 7 minutes, or until slightly golden. Add the rosemary, basil, and thyme and cook for 2 minutes - stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  2. Add the water along with the salt, red pepper flakes, and vegetables. Bring to a boil, then add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes. Stir regularly, using a tong as needed to make sure the pasta cooks thoroughly.
  3. Allow to slightly cool and then serve!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/03/shall-i-be.html

Now this recipe comes with a true tip/trick: cut and EVERYTHING first!  Once it’s time to add the water everything needs to be ready to go in order to avoid a mushy mess.  For this same reason I would avoid most members of the squash family and would also hold off adding any tomatoes until the very end.

Bottom of the Pit

Salted Rosemary Pretzel Buns

Pretzel Buns

I’m really hoping that with this last round of snow Mother Nature is finally done with winter – I’m ready for cherry blossoms, green grass, and spring vegetables!  We had a brief glimpse of spring over the weekend, to include the sighting of a few tulips, but now the world is again covered in a white blanket.  The only positive about winter continuing is that it gives me a little more time to plot out my spring recipes, to include the conquering of a few more new-to-me vegetables.  Today’s post however is not a veggie post – it’s a post about a delicious treat that is best enjoyed while walking down the city street (or at a ball stadium).   Pretzels might not the THE street food that everyone thinks of, but when I saw the challenge on /52weeksofcooking my mind went to pretzels.  Maybe because they are one of the few vegetarian items readily available from conventional street vendors, as I was trying to avoid caving in to the temptation of recreating something from a more modern food truck.

Bottom of the Pit

Serves: Yields 6 Buns

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp bread machine yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 cup HOT water
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary

Instructions

  1. Mix the yeast, sugar, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Form a well in the middle and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the olive oil and water and slowly pour in to the well. Quickly mix all the ingredients and then kneed for 5-7 minutes on a flat surface.
  3. Lightly oil the large bowl and place the dough in the bowl, rolling the dough around to cover in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a dry/warm location for an hour, or until dough has double.
  4. Combine the baking soda and hot water in a shallow bowl or saute pan.
  5. Divide the dough in to 6 balls. Remove the balls out at time, keeping the others covered in the bowl. Roll the dough out to form a snake like shape, then twist and form a bun.
  6. Dunk in to the water/baking powder mix then place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and repeat for remaining dough. Top with the fresh rosemary and kosher salt.
  7. Place pretzels in oven and heat to 415. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/03/bottom-of-the-pit-2.html

I can easily say the hardest part of this recipe was figuring out the right way to form them.  Since that didn’t really work for me I decided to twist them in to a bun shape – which turned out fantastic.  The quick baking soda bath gave them their distinct outer shell while the bun insured the inside was soft and moist!   Now it’s back to doing an anti-snow day since rumor has it more is coming on Tuesday…

Without this Fear

Root Vegetable “Lasagna”

Potato Au Gratin

Another day, another delicious recipe!  I was hoping to start prepping some delicious spring-themed treats but apparently mother nature is not quite ready for that.  As I’m writing this the temperature is preparing to drop some 40 degrees, and with the forecasted wind chill we’ll be back in the single digits.  So instead of thinking up ways to use the asparagus that will soon be arriving in the market, I’m back to my winter favorites: root vegetables (and mushrooms)!  This dish doesn’t really have a name as it’s a bit of a hybrid between an au gratin and a vegetable lasagna.  While lasagna noodles could be used I’m trying to think outside the pasta box – and so I decided to use pan fried potatoes as my “pasta” with various vegetables in between.

Root Vegetable "Lasagna"

Serves: Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb butter potatoes, 1/4 in slices
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups wild mushrooms, diced
  • 1 parsnip, coarsely grated
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely grated
  • 2 tbsp unsalted soy butter or margarine
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (coconut or dairy)
  • 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt (coconut or dairy - can also use ricotta cheese)
  • 1 1/2 cups kale (or chard or spinach), divided
  • Parmesan Cheese (optional), finely grated
  • Mozzarella Cheese (optional), shredded

Instructions

  1. Heat half of the olive oil in a deep saute dish over medium heat. Add the herbs and cook for 1 minute, then add the potatoes and cook until lightly brown. Remove from heat and set aside
  2. Heat the remaining olive oil in the pan along with the garlic and onion. Cook for 5 minutes and then add the mushrooms along with the carrots and parsnip. Cook for another 7-10 minutes, or until carrots become slightly tender.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the flour and allow to turn slightly golden before slowly whisking in the milk. Bring to a simmer, then cover and turn heat to low.
  4. Preheat oven to 375.
  5. Spoon 1/4 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a 2QT casserole dish, and use a spoon to spread the sauce around the bottom and sides of the dish. Begin layering starting with a single layer of the potatoes, then add 1/3 of the mushroom mixture, then 1/2 cup of the fresh kale, and 1/3 cup of the Greek Yogurt. Add 1/4 cup of sauce and then begin layering again - topping with a final layer of potatoes and sauce. (Optional - add shredded cheese on top of the sauce)
  6. Bake for 35 minutes, or until sauce starts to brown on the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
  7. Enjoy!

Notes

Earth Balance makes an awesome vegan "butter" while So Delicious (coconut) is my choice for Milk products, including Greek Yogurt. I used normal mozzarella in mine but have had Daiya before at various VegFests and rather certain it would be a great alternative! None of these companies know who I am as far as I'm aware - I just like what they sell!

http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/03/without-this-fear.html

Once plated this isn’t the prettiest of dishes, lots of white with a bit of green and orange for color – but it’s delicious!  I served it with some crusty sourdough, but anything with a good crust will do well when it comes to getting every last bit of the sauce.  I’m sending this on over to the amazing Ren who hosts Simple and in Season, and I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that winter will soon be over.  As much as I enjoy root vegetables, I’m ready for some fresh greens and spring onions!