Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Big Bowl Of Vegetables

One of our favorite things to eat at home is vegetarian enchiladas. Since it takes awhile to dice all of the veggies, I needed a bigger motivation to do the work. And so… “A Big Bowl of Vegetables” was born!  

By chopping a lot of vegetables at once, I save time in the evenings because most of my prep work for dinner is already completed. The bowl of veggies can hang out in the refrigerator for one week in an airtight container. (You might also choose to divide some out into freezer bags and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.)

This a great method to use when you want to take advantage of the bounty from your garden or a local farmer’s market. Are you cooking for a household divided between carnivore and herbivore? This is for you too! We especially love to use this method during our frequent flirtations with a vegetarian diet; however, you will find there are plenty of places to add some meat if you so choose.

Some of my favorite uses for our Big Bowl of Vegetables include:

• Vegetable and Black Bean Enchiladas (see recipe below) – ground turkey is a great addition for a lean protein
• Vegetarian Lasagna (see recipe below) – add some ground beef or sausage if you want meat in your dish
• Asian Lettuce Wraps (see recipe below)
• Confetti Pasta Toss – sauté the veggies with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper; toss with small shells or penne, and parmesan cheese
• Baked Potato Topper – sauté with olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper; spoon onto the top of a baked potato for a satisfying lunch (also great with a little salsa or Ranch dressing!)

How to Make a Big Bowl of Vegetables:

2 Yellow squash
2 Zucchini
4 Carrots
2 Broccoli crowns
½ Head Cauliflower
1 each red, yellow, & orange bell peppers

* Yields approximately 15 cups of chopped vegetables

Chop all vegetables into ¼” pieces and mix together in a big bowl. Cover the bowl with a lid or tightly sealing plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Freeze in a zip-top bag for up to 3 months.

Vegetable and Black Bean Enchiladas

5 cups of vegetable mixture
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, Colby, mozzarella, etc)
10 oz can green enchilada sauce or 1 jar salsa
3 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 recipe of the spice mix (see below)

Spice Mix:
2 Tablespoons Cumin
1 Tablespoon Coriander
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Heat 3 Tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add black beans and 5 cups of the vegetable mixture to the pan. Cook vegetables for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spice mixture and stir to combine; be sure to distribute evenly throughout the bean and vegetable mixture. If the mixture seems dry, gradually add ¼ to ½ cup of water and stir to combine. Cook vegetables to desired level of doneness. Remove pan from heat and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 375o. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, scoop ½ cup of the filling into each tortilla. Take 1 cup of the cheese and divide evenly among the enchiladas. Roll each enchilada and place in the baking dish. Cover the enchiladas with the sauce or salsa; sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown. Serve with sour cream and guacamole.

Vegetarian Lasagna

3Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups of vegetable mixture
2 Tablespoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
16 oz can diced tomatoes
30oz ricotta
4 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
4 Tablespoons dried parsley
Salt & pepper to taste
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles

To make the sauce: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, vegetables, and herbs; be careful not to burn the garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste and cook for another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the crushed and diced tomatoes; stir to combine well. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, parsley, salt and pepper.

Using a ladle, add enough sauce to the baking dish to thinly coat the bottom. Lay down a layer of noodles, breaking them into smaller pieces, as needed, to fill in the gaps. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles, then cover with a layer of sauce and vegetables. Continue to layer noodles, cheese, sauce. Top with the remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese.

Bake in a 375o oven for approximately 35 minutes or until the cheese begins to bubble and brown. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 15 minutes before cutting.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

1 head of iceberg lettuce or 16 Bibb lettuce leaves
1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons minced ginger root
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 carrots, shredded
1 small onion, chopped small
1 broccoli crown, chopped very small
3 green onions, thinly sliced (white & green parts)
2 teaspoons sesame oil

* Vegetable alternative: 1 cup from “Big Bowl of Vegetables”

Rinse lettuce leaves, keeping them whole. Set aside to drain.

Cook chicken in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring often to break up the meat. Add onion, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, and salt & pepper. Cook until the meat is crumbled and brown. Add green onions and cook until onions begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Stir in sesame oil. Arrange lettuce leaves on the outer edge of a platter. Spoon meat mixture in center. Allow diners to spoon meat mixture into lettuce leaves and eat like a taco.

Originally published July 27, 2010

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