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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Baked Veggies

"You should post about your crazy bulk-cooking and freezing" - A
"Please enlighten me ... I need to start eating more veggies " - D

Lately, I've been quite the boring cook. I have been so busy and found ways to make sure that I have plenty of healthy, pre-cooked/prepared options in my fridge. On top of that, I don't mind eating boring & healthy when I'm at home as I happily indulge when I eat out. I can't wait for my schedule to free up so I can return to playing in my kitchen and making more interesting's been a long time since I've cooked Korean food, and I miss it:
Spicy rice cakes, pork bone soup, short ribs

An evening of making 150 mandu & Korean dumpling soup

D, I made this post for you =). I hope this answers your questions and helps you with your quest to eat more veggies!

I often bake or grill a boatload of vegetables for the entire week. They can serve as a warm side dish, hearty addition to pasta sauce, stuffing for wraps/sammies, mixed with curries...or straight up as a sammy like last week's Midnight Snacks post. Cooking in bulk saves me time & money, and there are infinite ways to enjoy them. Vegetables change with the seasons, and I just rolled a few of my most recent bakes into one post. It's cold now - so I use the oven instead of the BBQ. Boring? Maybe. But regardless, here we go:

The basic idea:
1. Buy tasty vegetables
2. Put them in a pan with seasoning, olive oil, and/or cheese if you so wish
3. Cover with foil and let it bake @375F for 30-50 minutes (depending on how much crunch you want)
4. Pack and enjoy for the rest of the week!

How to Bake Eggplant
Eggplants are easy, filling, and one of my favourite veggies to bake. One of my favourite things to do when marketing is buy something completely foreign to my palette or kitchen. Even if it's something as common as eggplant, I get pretty excited since I usually discover that it's ridiculously easy and I can do other delicious things with it such as Bana Ganoush, ratatouille, and eggplant lasagna!

Slice & poke some holes

Salt, sweat (~20 min), rinse

Season with some pepper
If you use a big eggplant, you can rinse and re-salt after a bit if you particularly dislike the bitter taste. I've found that 40 minutes is enough for big slices. These were small, so just 20 minutes was fine. Be generous with the salt and don't fret - you'll wash it out later. For the health conscious: It may seem horribly unhealthy to rub salt on your veggies, but the slices will soak up less olive oil in the later steps. Less oil and more retained eggplant-y flavour!

The Basics
I toss these, along with any other root/dense vegetables, with a bit of olive oil and pop them in them oven at 375F while prepping my other veggies. By "dense" I mean things that take longer to bake to my liking such as carrots, onions, garlic, zucchini, and beets (@#$%ing beets).

Chop & Top

As they bake, prep the rest of your veggies. After 20 minutes or so pull the pan out of the oven. Give the contents a good turn before tossing the rest on top. Cover, and pop back in for 20 minutes or so. Then you're done!

Top, Cover, & bake!

This was a pretty small & simple batch:
Yellow Zucchini
Italian Eggplants
Red Bell Peppers
White Mushrooms
...all local & purchased from St. Lawrence Market
Seasoning: Olive oil, salt & pepper

Pasta sauce & Cheese
Line the bottom with pasta sauce, top veggies with cheese. Once melted, top with tomatoes!

Cooked the rest of the same veggies a few days later with:
My homemade pasta sauce (slow cooker with zucchini, green peppers, peas, crushed tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, kidney beans, onions, and turkey)
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Tomato (minimally cooked)

More Veggies + Lemons!

Topped with lemons and tomatoes at the end

I had some lemons left over from a lemon-tea craving.*
Lemons were actually an awesome addition - just slice them up, and bake them with the rest! They gave a wonderful citrus flavour, and I happily ate the lemon slices afterwards. Yum.

Brussels Sprouts    
Red Pepper
Slow cooker pasta sauce
Mozzarella Cheese

Roasted red pepper seasoning

Frozen strawberries in lemon tea
*Side note: it's very easy to make yummy iced tea.

Make regular tea, squeeze some lemons, then chill with the fridge, ice cubes or frozen fruit! I freeze peaches, strawberries, and blueberries when I buy too many/they are on sale.

It's so refreshing and you get a tasty piece of fruit in the end!

I used some leftover pumpkin from Thanksgiving baking. If I had more, it would've been better, but it still added a nice dose of sweet squashy-ness. This was a huge batch of veggies, as I had quite a bit leftover from various Thanksgiving dinners:

Portabello Mushrooms
White Onion
Radishes & leaves    
Mini red potatoes

Green Bell Peppers
Baby carrots
Brussels Sprouts

Anyways, aside from making this post especially for Miss D, the point of this is to show how easy it is to make healthy, fuss-free options available to you on a regular (if not constant) basis. This will take just 40 minutes of your time - especially since you can start baking some veggies while prepping the others. This week, I baked veggies, pre-packed 5 salads, and made 4L of pasta sauce in my slow cooker (I froze much of it). It's surprising how many things you'll find yourself adding these to. When I make curry, in they go. I can bake a fish fillet on a bed of the vegetables. The last time I made myself a chicken wrap, I re-heated some vegetables and stuffed them in the pita. So. Good. It changes every week and it's a great way to clean my produce drawer - nothing ever goes bad in my fridge!

Think ahead, cook in bulk, save money, and enjoy simplicity. Then you can enjoy your city's food in a whim, try a new restaurant, where you can indulge in some wonderful food that you might not be able to make at home.

Easy daily vegetable fixes


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