Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vegetable Recipe Ideas

One of my Facebook friends had this for a recent status:

I am looking for your favorite veggie dishes. We need to break out of our rut and try new things. SO please send me your favorite (healthy) veggie dish."

I know that cooking ruts are lousy, so I sent her the names of 2 recipes and directed her here, which I realize is a bit cocky. I don't think this blog is a great resource of vegetable recipes YET, but I was too lazy to copy the recipes again. Then I thought about my friend's status and had that "doh!" moment. My friend was in a rut; I've been in ruts; other people struggle to incorporate vegetables in their daily or even weekly eating. Why not share some of our favorite ways to eat vegetables just to give people some ideas?

Casserole-type Meals
These meals are an alternative to lasagnas and pasta casseroles, but they may bear a resemblance to them at least in terms of how they are cooked.

Cheesy Lentil Rice Casserole
I've written about the convenience and tastiness of this in the past, so I'm just linking to the post with the recipe. This recipe requires ONE baking dish and a cutting board to make it - no mixing bowls, no sauteeing. I will be forever thankful to the friend who gave me this recipe. It is a regular in our house. One of the many great things about it is the ability to add whatever vegetables you want, so it's always a little bit different.

These are a great way to "hide" vegetables. I'd rather be upfront about what I'm feeding my kids, but I know that isn't possible for everyone, and I occasionally have omitted ingredient information from my kids when I thought the information would prevent them from trying something I knew they would enjoy. This recipe is a variation on the one in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook.

Ingredients for filling:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups minced onion (I use 2 medium onions, chopped)
6 medium cloves garlic, minced (I use pre-minced garlic and guesstimate)
3/4 tsp. salt (I skip salt)
1 large bell pepper (any color), minced (I use 2 large red bell peppers, chopped)
5 small (6 inch) zucchini, diced (I usually have 1-2 large)
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin (I probably used 2 – 2.5 tsp. when all was said and done)
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
cayenne and black pepper to taste
1 1/3 cups (packed) grated jack cheese (I use this much IN the filling and it was a mozzarella and cheddar blend. I put a bunch more on top)

Regarding vegetables, I have added black beans to this recipe, substituted summer squash for zucchini or just added summer squash. I've added chicken breast (chopped) to the recipe, which Aaron LOVES. There is a lot of flexibility in this recipe for vegetables. Also you can minced the veggies instead of chopping/dicing, which does disguise them a bit better.

1) Heat oil in a large, deep skillet. Add onion, garlic and salt. Saute over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until the onion is quite soft.
2) Add bell pepper, zucchini (other veggies), and seasonings. Stir and cook over medium heat another 5-8 minutes, or until the zucchini (other veggies) is just tender.
3) Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Allow to cool for a few minutes before filling the tortillas.

Ingredients for sauce:
5 medium ripe tomatoes, diced (we use a 28oz can)
1 large red bell pepper, minced
1 tsp. salt (pretty sure I skip it)
5 large cloves garlic, minced (see above – we estimate)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
I add more spice than the recipe calls for and don't measure.

1) Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat, partially cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
2) You can leave it chunky or puree in a food processor or blender. I use my immersion blender. For extra smooth sauce, pass the puree through a fine strainer or sieve.
3) Pour a small amount of sauce into a shallow baking dish (e.g., 13×9 pyrex).

Assemble the enchiladas by placing a few tablespoons of filling on one side of each tortillas and rolling up the tortilla. Lay each enchilada seam side down in the baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Add cheese if desired. Cover with foil, and bake for about 30 minutes in a 325 oven. Serve hot.

Years ago, my mother-in-law gave us a cookbook of her recipes. Most of the recipes have stories of who in the family enjoyed it or when she made the dish. There are a handful in this book which have become regulars in our house, and her "crustless quiche" is one of them. I think a crustless quiche may be more appropriately called a frittata, but the eggs in my crustless quiche aren't fried. Labels aside, here's how it works.

  • 6-8 eggs, beaten - This isn't exact because it depends on how the mixture looks. I start with 6 eggs and determine whether everything looks well-blended. It shouldn't look like a soup, but it should be pretty gooey.
  • 1 c. shredded cheese (rough measurement)
  • 1-2 onions, chopped
  • Vegetables: chopped broccoli, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus are tasty options. You want something that will have a good texture after being baked. I haven't measured vegetables in a while, but I seem to recall using 1 box of frozen spinach thawed (10oz.) and drained to fill a 9 inch pie dish. With broccoli, I use about 2 heads/bunches. Sun-dried tomatoes are usually a topping rather than incorporated in the egg.
  • Seasonings: this changes depending on the vegetables. Some good combinations include: basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper OR dill with s&p. Really, choose herbs and spices which you like. The measuring is to taste. I judge by whether I can smell and see the herb/spice.
In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped onions and the vegetables of your choosing. Add some of your seasonings. Stir in beaten eggs. Fold in shredded cheese. Pour mixture into a pie dish. Bake in 350 oven until mixture sets and any liquid which comes out is clear. I test the quiche by poking a sharp knife in the center. If the liquid looks like water, it's good. If the mixture wobbles like jello, it probably needs a few more minutes.

Squash Kugel
This is another recipe I've shared before, so just follow the link. I'm also very thankful to the neighbor who shared the recipe with me. Her son refuses to eat vegetables but loves this dish. Really it's more like cake than a vegetable. It's pretty easy to make, really easy to double, and great as leftovers.

Soup-type Meals
My kids have pleasantly surprised me by enjoying a number of soups or soup-like dishes. At the Indian restaurant, Caleb sometimes enjoys dipping naan (bread) or chicken into dal (lentil) dishes. At home, I haven't ventured into Indian cooking yet, but my kids do like these next few recipes.

I've written about these 3 recipes before, and the recipes are in one post. I thought I'd add a few comments and any changes here.

Our chili still has no real recipe. However, we make both a turkey and a vegetarian chili. The vegetarian chili omits the turkey obviously and adds more beans and other veggies. Our most recent chili included zucchini and summer squash as well as the peppers and beans. For the turkey chili, we brown the turkey often with Montreal Steak Spice (mix of spices like pepper, garlic, salt). We serve it with whatever shredded cheese we have (usually cheddar). Caleb prefers the vegetable chili, and I *think* Ellie prefers the turkey, but they both eat either.

Pea soup
I've actually made this all by myself now! Unfortunately I didn't write down what I did, so I'm going to try to explain this by memory.

1 lb dried split peas (1 bag usually)
2-4 potatoes, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
Chopped carrots, not sure of quantity... maybe 1-2 cups?
6 cups water
3 vegetable bouillon cubes (assumes that 1 cube = 2 cups broth)

Put all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.

Butternut squash soup
Of the two recipes I mentioned previously, our family has been sticking with the classic one from the Whole Foods site. It's not sweet like the slow cooker recipe with apples, but it's quite filling and feels great on a damp evening. If your kids seem to gravitate towards sweet foods, you may want to try the slow cooker recipe.

I hope these recipes give you some ideas. As I cook some more this week, I'll try to add to this post any successful vegetable cooking. If you do try something you found here, please let me know how it goes!

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