Tag: Vegetarian (page 2 of 3)

Recipe: Vegetable Strudel With Creamy Mustard Dip

It’s Vegetablestrudeltime.

I like this strudel so much, I ate it for dinner, breakfast and lunch.

There’s something special about foods all wrapped up in pastry, whether they are meat pies or vegetable pies. Earlier this winter, I worked briefly in the kitchen of a restaurant before I accepted my current role. The chef made a vegetable strudel for a fancy event and sent the staff home with the leftovers. As people who have worked in a restaurant often know, just because you work around food doesn’t mean you have time to eat it! When I got home late that night, I kicked off my grease-covered shoes, removed my hairband soaked in dishwasher spray and shared my little piece of vegetable strudel with Jake. It was memorably delicious.

When I was flipping through Baking: A Commonsense Guide, a cool Australian cookbook, the recipe for Vegetable Strudel caught my eye. The filling in this strudel contains eggplant and tastes more like caponata. In hindsight, a little splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar would add a lovely tang. Even though this recipe has a lot of instructions, this strudel is easier to make than it might seem. Adjust the vegetable filling however you’d like and don’t worry if the sheets of fillo rip or stick together. Simply fuse them together with butter.

Strudel

Vegetable Strudel Rolls
Adapted from the recipe for Vegetable Strudel in Baking: A Commonsense Guide.

Cooks Notes: I found a box of Athens brand phyllo dough at Target in the refrigerated section for a few dollars. The box contains two rolls of sheets. Larger purple eggplants may have a bitter note. Supposedly, you can remove some of the bitterness by sprinkling the eggplant with salt and patting the slices dry when they release moisture. The slimmer Japanese eggplants have a thinner skin and sweeter flavor, making this step unnecessary. The strudel is crispiest eaten hot from the oven. As it cools, the fillo will get softer. This might bother some, but we’ve been digging into the strudel anyway. Reduce the filling by half if you’d like to make less strudels. We like lots of leftovers. 

Veg strudel inside

Ingredients:
Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 bell peppers, de-seeded and cut into small strips.
2 small zucchini (or one large), sliced into half moons
1 small/medium eggplant, partially skinned and cubed, or two Japanese eggplants.
2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves
Basil, I used two sprinkles of dried
Salt
Black pepper
Pinch sugar
1 package fillo dough
Melted butter, start with 1/2 stick
5 oz (or more) of shredded sharp cheddar (or your favorite cheese)
Sesame seeds

Dip:
Mayo
Dijon mustard
Vinegar (or lemon juice)
Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, grated
Sugar, a pinch
Hot sauce

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400℉
  2. To prepare eggplant: If your eggplant is large and has thick skin, remove some of the skin. Cut into thick slices. Sprinkle with salt. Place on paper towels until some of the moisture releases from the eggplant. Absorb moisture in towels and cut slices into small cubes.
  3. Pre-heat a large pan over medium heat. Saute onion in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until it begins to turn brown. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the bell pepper, zucchini and eggplant. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until tender, adding more olive oil as needed. If you have too many vegetables for the pan, split them between two. You don’t want the vegetables to get too soft because they will bake in the oven for another 30 minutes. HOwever, you do want them to cook down enough to release a lot of their moisture so the strudel isn’t mushy.
  5. Toss in the spinach and toss mixture until the spinach wilts.
  6. Taste the vegetable mixture for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper as necessary. Toss in some fresh or dried basil and a pinch of sugar. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  7. Carefully unpack one roll of fillo dough. Remove one sheet. Gently brush with melted butter and top with another sheet of fillo until you have six layers. *Cover the fillo you are not working with, with a damp towel so it don’t dry out and become brittle.
  8. If your fillo keeps ripping: Depending on your box of fillo, some of the sheets may be hard to separate or stick together. If they are all broken, layer the partial pieces together as you brush with melted butter. Once you stack six layers of sheets, they will be strong enough to roll around the filling.
  9. When you have your six layers of fillo, carefully place filling along one of the long edges, leaving space on all three edges. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll the fillo around the filling, tucking in the edges.
  10. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper seam-side down. Brush with more melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Repeat process with remaining vegetable mix and strudel.
  11. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. If the edges brown too quickly, lightly cover them with foil.
  12. To prepare the dip, combine the ingredients, adding more or less of each according to your taste.

I’m Smitten With Smitten With Squash: Layered Greek Tzatziki Dip

I’m smitten with Smitten With Squash, Amanda Paa’s new cookbook. She’s a Twin Cities resident who also blogs beautiful recipes at Heartbeet Kitchen.

Just as the book’s description says, Smitten With Squash is truly a celebration of this diverse and under-appreciated vegetable.

It seems that Midwesterners get inundated with zucchini and yellow squash in the summer and winter squash ranging from acorn to delicata in the fall right up ’till the winter. I almost can’t get enough squash and appreciate how this cookbook offers over seventy ways to prepare squash for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert. It’s probably the best available cure for those suffering from squash fatigue.

Squash

For those who are allergic to gluten, each recipe can be prepared gluten-free if desired. Amanda shares her favorite gluten-free flour substitute so everyone can make her baked goods like Sweet Delicata Pie With Pecan Praline (p. 125) and Chocolate Coconut Zucchini Bread (p. 62). My good friend introduced me to chocolate zucchini cake and I’m excited to try Amanda’s version.

Amanda has graciously given me permission to share one of her cookbook’s recipes here on Jeni Eats. It was hard to choose my first recipe, but I decided to prepare her Layered Greek Tzatziki Dip (p. 18) with a beautiful North Iowan zucchini I bought at my local Mason City farmers market.

This dip is so refreshing because it’s perfectly fresh with seasonal vegetables, herby with dill, basil, and parsley, and it strikes an addicting balance with lemon-flecked greek yogurt and garlicky marinated vegetables.

Jake and I are storing the yogurt and vegetable mixtures in separate containers and layering them upon serving, since it’s just for the two of us. Amanda notes that one can use a combination of any herbs and prepare the dip a day ahead.

Layered Greek Tzatziki Dip
From Smitten With Squash by Amanda Kay Paa. Serves 8-10 as an appetizer. 

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Marinated Vegetables
1 cup finely chopped zucchini
1 cup finely chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped canned artichokes
1 1/2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup pitted chopped kalamata olives
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Dip
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
16 ounces light sour cream
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Toasted pita wedges or tortilla chips for serving (I made a batch of Smitten Kitchen’s pita bread and toasted my own wedges in a 400℉ oven with olive oil, salt and pepper until golden brown).

Instructions
Mix together all of the marinated vegetable ingredients and allow them to sit for at least one hour. The flavors will develop the longer they mingle.

When you are ready to assemble the dip, drain off any extra liquid from the vegetables. Set aside 1/4 cup of the vegetables. If you are preparing the dip for a party, layer the yogurt and vegetables in a clear, round serving bowl, starting with the vegetables. Finish by topping the last yogurt layer with the reserved 1/4 cup vegetables in a circular mound.

You can also mix the vegetable and yogurt mixtures together, or layer them as individual portions if you are not serving a group.

Creamy Chopped Eggplant Dip

I have a long-held fascination with eggplant.

It all started with food television. Growing up, I watched in awe as chefs prepared this strange, spongy vegetable. Sometimes they roasted it and sometimes they fried it. Either way, I just knew that someday I would love eggplant and I was right.

Eggplant just wasn’t a vegetable that appeared on my family’s table. . . or any other family that we visited’s tables. I didn’t see it at church picnics or soccer team potlucks. Maybe eggplant has become more popular in the kitchens of the Twin Cities’ southern ‘burbs. It’s so good and so versatile.

Earlier this year, I watched the episode of Trisha Yearwood’s (my childhood hero) cooking show on Food Network in which Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner were special guests. Nadia prepared this simple eggplant dip called Salata de Vinete that caught my eye. I whipped together this dip based upon what I remembered seeing her prepare during this episode.

Jake and I liked the dip so much that it’s already gone. After we enjoyed it for dinner, I polished off the leftovers for breakfast and am contemplating preparing a second batch.

Creamy Chopped Eggplant Dip
Adapted from Nadia Comaneci’s recipe for Salata de Vinete. Use as many eggplants as you like. I’d recommend small-medium sized eggplants so they’ll roast faster and have smaller seeds, but use what you have. 

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Ingredients:
Eggplant
Olive oil
Salt
Onion, finely diced (as much as you like)
Garlic, powdered or freshly grated
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Mayonnaise (can substitute greek yogurt or sour cream).
Lemon juice, to taste
Dill, dried or fresh
Smoked paprika or my favorite – half sharp Hungarian paprika, a dash or two

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400℉.
  2. Wash eggplants. Prick several times with a fork or knife so they don’t explode while baking. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Roast eggplants until they are soft inside and blistered outside. Flip a few times during cooking. This will take about 40-minutes for small eggplants and longer if they are larger.
  4. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and remove the stem. Let any liquid drain away from the eggplant.
  5. Chop into small pieces. If you want a smoother texture, chop finer.
  6. Combine chopped eggplant with red onion and a couple dollops of mayonnaise. Start with a little bit of each and add as needed.
  7. Season with garlic powder or grated garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, dill and lemon juice, to taste.
  8. Serve with toasted pita bread.

Beet & Goat Cheese Flatbread

I love baking homemade pizza and homemade pizza is Jake’s favorite.

This week, I found beets at the farmers market and eagerly bought a couple of bunches. We ate the leafy beet greens right away. If you haven’t tried them, cook them like you would any other green. I don’t blanche the tops because they’re tender and wilt quickly like spinach.

Kale is the green everyone talks about, but we enjoy beet greens more. I toss them into sautéed onion and garlic and briefly wilt them in soy sauce and honey or maple syrup for a sweet and salty treat.

Beet Greens

For a special midweek treat, I prepared this beet and goat cheese flatbread. I baked my favorite, thin crust pizza dough recipe and spread it with goat cheese flavored with garlic scapes. Then, I sprinkled over diced beets and green onion. Beets and goat cheese is one of our favorite combinations and it brightened up our week.

Beet and Goat Cheese Flatbread
Makes two large but very thin flatbreads.

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How To Prepare the Garlic Scape Goat Cheese
Combine a large 10 oz. package of plain goat cheese with enough milk or cream to make it spreadable. Add minced garlic scape. The flavor of the scape is strong so I used a handful. If you can’t find garlic scapes, you could add minced garlic, green onion, chives, dill, and/or parsley.

How To Cook the Beets

Beets
I cook beets by simmering them in water because I first learned to cook them this way, though many prefer to roast. Be aware that beets will stain your cutting board. Here’s my simmering method:

  1. Clean the beets and remove most of the stem.
  2. Place them in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer until they are tender enough to easily insert a knife into the center.
  3. Drain and cool until they’re cool enough to handle.
  4. Gently peel off the skin and remove the stem and tails.
  5. Slice or dice however you wish.

Preparing the Flat Bread:
Adapted from the recipe Lahmacun published by Saveur. 

Ingredients:
1 package of quick rise yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and sugar. Hot water will kill the yeast. Allow to sit and bloom until it bubbles.
  2. Add the flour and salt to a large bowl. If preparing by hand, make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture and olive oil. Gradually stir until the dough forms a ball. If using a stand mixer, add the yeast-water mixture and oil to the flour on low and mix with a dough hook until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms a ball. If it’s too dry, slowly stream in a little water. If the dough is too soft and sticky, add a little flour. Knead or mix at a higher speed until the dough is smooth and elastic and not too sticky.
  3. Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Loosely cover and place in a warm location until it’s doubled in size.
  4. Punch down and divide in half.
  5. On a floured surface, roll out dough and place on an oiled baking sheet. Stretch the dough towards the edges.
  6. Allow the dough to rise again for about 1/2 hour.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 400℉
  8. Lightly brush the dough with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Bake until the dough is cooked through and golden brown on the bottom.

To Assemble the Flatbread

  1. Spread the warm pizza crust with the goat cheese mixture.
  2. Sprinkle with diced beets, sliced green onion and any herbs you desire.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Slice and serve.

Clara Cannucciari’s Asparagus Sandwiches

Last year, I became fascinated with Clara Cannucciari (August 28, 1915-November 29, 2013) after reading Clara’s Kitchen, a book she co-authored about growing up during the Great Depression. The cover of her book states she is, “Everybody’s favorite YouTube Grandmother,” as she also hosted online cooking segments through age 96. 

She’s certainly mine, as none of my grandmothers ever appeared on YouTube, not even our incredible adopted Grandma Burrell. 

Clara describes growing up during a time when food was scarce and jobs, scarcer. She shares the recipes that sustained her family and the necessary adjustments they made to reduce food wastage and save money. Her recipes are simple. Some, remarkably so, yet I often found myself wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Her family was rarely able to afford meat and relied on sustainable and local food systems such as raising their own chickens for eggs, planting a vibrant garden, canning excess produce, and foraging for wild edibles.  For example, Clara describes how to prepare dandelion greens and burdock stalks, plants that are still available in our own backyards or parkways.

Did you know that you can place anything between two slices of bread and call it a sandwich? My significant other and I have eaten many recipes from Clara’s book, including many of these sandwiches. One evening, we made “Salad Sandwiches” from leftover rainbow chard quickly blanched in hot water, shocked in ice water, and sautéed with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. We also feasted on eggplant burgers, replacing ground beef with a fried slice of eggplant, plus the usual burger accoutrements. 

Our favorite of all was this asparagus sandwich and we’ve made it many times, since.

Asparagus Sandwich EditedClara’s Asparagus Sandwich

Ingredients:
1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Sliced bread
Butter
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
Lemon or lime wedges

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425℉.
  2. Wash the asparagus. Remove the woody ends (I like to snap off the ends).
  3. On a sheet pan, drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the stalks in a single layer and roast for a few minutes. Flip the asparagus, and roast for a few more minutes or until tender.
  4. Toast your slices of bread and butter them. Place the asparagus between the buttered bread, sprinkle with freshly grated cheese, and spritz with a squirt of lemon or lime.
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