During our first year of marriage, I cooked two or three elaborate meals each week. They usually included a green and yellow vegetable and meant that I a) didn't spend enough time with my husband and b) had lots of leftover produce rotting in my fridge. Eventually I realized that cooking random veggie side dishes was a big drain on our time and budget, so since then most of our veggies have been the frozen steam-in-bag variety, salad, or extras incorporated into our main dish. These options are so easy that we have no excuse to fall short of our quota and they seriously reduce waste. But they can also get tiresome.
Lately I've missed being excited about vegetables instead of just scarfing them down between bites of meat or pasta, so I decided to experiment with some fresh and flavorful recipes that feature fantastic produce. Here are a few ways that we've been eating our veggies lately:
Cheesy Zucchini and Red Onion Flatbread
This is delicious. The recipe calls for canned pizza dough, but I thought fresh dough from the Publix bakery would be better. I'm sure this is way better, but it doesn't really work right with the technique described in the recipe. I will definitely make this again, but next time I'll keep the dough flat instead of folding it in half. I also might try reduced-fat veggie cream cheese in place of the Alouette.
|Chewy, cheesy, and delicious!|
|Rolling the fresh dough didn't work, so I stretched it instead.|
|The recipe calls for an extra layer of cheese and herbs in the crust.|
|I wanted to use all my zucchini, so I crammed it on!|
|The fresh dough puffed in the oven - no folding next time!|
I grew up in a family of salsa purists, but ever since we tried Newman's Own Peach Salsa, Michael and I both prefer our salsa with a sweet kick. This recipe has a similar tangy, sweet flavor that I just can't get enough of. Although, next time I'll use about half the pickling spice because it was a little strong. Also, I nixed the pears since I had plenty of peaches and I think it's probably best without them.
Warning: this took a long time to make thanks to all the peeling and chopping. Do yourself a favor and check out this quick tutorial on blanching and peeling tomatoes and peaches before you start. Oh, and by the way, this recipe makes a gallon! I cut it in half and we will still never finish it, so choose your yield wisely.
|Check out that pretty produce!|
|Sorry about the grainy phone pic!|
I hated eggplant as a child and I still don't really like it, but when I wound up with free seeds I decided I had to grow some. I was expecting tons of eggplant to experiment with and adjust my taste buds, but after waiting all season for two tiny fruits I decided to play it safe with this fried and cheese-covered favorite. It doesn't disappoint.
|My two little eggplants all sliced up.|
|Breaded, fried and ready to swim in sauce.|
|Yum, yum, yum!|
Olive Garden Salad
This is the perfect way to revive your salad habit. Go crazy and throw in some croutons and olives and toss with this tangy dressing. It's not just like the restaurant dressing as it claims - I added some extra corn syrup and garlic salt to balance the flavor, but it seriously hit the spot. Serve it with soup and breadsticks for a satisfying restaurant-style meal.
|Doesn't look that appealing by itself, but it's tasty.|
|Sometimes a few croutons go a long way in making me excited about salad!|
Crockpot "Baked" Sweet Potatoes
I LOVE sweet potatoes, but I hate to wait for them to cook. I also don't like heating up the oven to cook them. So even though I could eat these super-nutritious sweeeties every day (I just about did for my first two years of college), we hardly ever eat them at home. Until now! This is so easy you can't even call it cooking, and I think it tastes better than oven-baking. The recipe calls for five sweet potatoes, but I nestle two snuggly in my little two-quart slow cooker and they're perfect - it just depends on how many will fit. And if one sticks out, just cut the tip off and cram it in - it'll be just fine. I don't pay attention to the time - just cook them on low all day long. These are great by themselves or used in recipes like casseroles, soups, and this yummy-looking gnocchi I plan to make soon.
I don't have any pictures of these, but they're gooey and browned just like they would get in the oven. We just might eat a ton of them before fall is over!
I hope I've inspired you to show your veggies a little more love. You won't regret it! Can you think of any other tasty favorites I left out?