Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Vegetarians Are Coming!

So my dad and his girlfriend, Anju, came to dinner this weekend. Anju is a vegetarian, and although my dad doesn't necessarily adhere to a vegetarian diet, he subsists mostly on foods of the plant variety. In addition, my dad is watching his carbs at the moment (just all the refined white stuff). I had a fun time coming up with a menu that covered all the bases in terms of dietary preferences, and think I succeeded in making it pretty darn scrumptious as well. On the menu was
lentil soup, courtesy of Anju (I'll have to get the recipe for a future post - it was delicious), a delicate rocket lettuce salad and a seasonal vegetable polenta pie that took advantage of the last of this year's heirloom tomatoes. For dessert, gala apples baked with pecan/maple granola and topped with honey Greek-style yogurt (a total copycat of a dish I recently had prepared by my friend Betsy's mom - I've been craving it ever since!). Enjoy the recipes!

Rocket Lettuce Salad
  • Baby arugula (rocket lettuce), washed and dried
  • Sliced almonds, toasted
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved
  • Simple lemon vinaigrette: whisk together equal parts freshly-squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil; salt to taste.
Dress the greens lightly with the simple vinaigrette. Top with almonds, parmesan shavings and fresh-cracked black pepper.

Vegetable Polenta Pie
  • 1 cup polenta, dry
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 4 cups button or crimini mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 3 small zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
Begin by making the polenta. Combine the dry polenta and water in a saucepan and let come to a boil, stirring constantly. The polenta will absorb the liquid and become thick. Stir in the olive oil and continue to cook until creamy (continue to stir). When complete, spoon the soft polenta into a deep casserole dish and spread to cover the bottom evenly. Brush the top with olive oil, and pop into a preheated 400-degree oven. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until the top of the polenta "crust" is firm to the touch (but not crispy!).

While the polenta crust is in the oven, prep and assemble the vegetable pie filling. For the zucchini and onions, use a mandolin to achieve a uniform slice. When the polenta crust is removed from the oven, start to layer the vegetables on top of the polenta base: a layer of tomatoes, followed by the onions, followed by the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Continue layering with the zucchini, followed by the chopped basil, followed by the fresh mozzarella. The final layer is another tier of tomatoes, artfully arranged. Return entire dish to the 400-degree oven, and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and vegetables are cooked through.

Baked Apples
  • Gala apples
  • Brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Granola mix of your choice (I used a pecan/maple granola)
  • Greek-style yogurt, plain or honey-flavored
Cut the gala apples in half; remove the stems and seeds. Place skin-down in a deep-sided baking dish that has been oiled. Sprinkle each apple half with a dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg; add a teaspoon off brown sugar to each as well. Top with a spoonful or two of granola. Add a splash of water to the bottom of the baking dish. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until apples are tender. You may need to cover or tent the dish to avoid burning the granola. Garnish with a dollop of the yogurt.

1 comment:

  1. This whole meal is droolworthy... but I already used the last of our heirloom tomatoes, alas! Will keep an eye out for some good ones so I don't have to wait 10 months before trying it.