Sunday, August 22, 2010

A healthy Saturday lunch...

I had Rho and Izzy over for lunch and immediately knew what i wanted to make -- the vegetable torte posted by both Stacey Snacks and Proud Italian Cook.  It sounded easy and healthy, while at the same time is apparently quite a presentation.  I was at the Century City farmers market on Thursday and picked up eggplants, squash and tomatoes, and then went to the market and got broccoli, red peppers, zucchini, shallots and whatever else looked good to be grilled.  Let me tell you, it does come out beautiful (although Stacey's topping looks much more delicious than mine.  I didn't both drizzling olive oil on top of the breadcrumbs -- i thought there was enough oil in the dish.  My mistake.), but is definitely a time consuming project.

I picked up Parmigiano Reggiano which i put into a middle layer, and on top -- just beneath the breadcrumbs.  Rho & Izzy thought it was very good, but they both thought it could have used more layers of cheese, which might also hold it together a little better.  For me, this meant it was healthier than it could have been.

I found the breadcrumbs got a bit lost among all those vegetables, but they did add a nice crunch.  I also enjoyed the tomatoes not being grilled, but just cooked into the dish.  Added a slightly different texture.

An assortment of fresh veggies

Ingredients -
  • 2 large italian eggplant
  • Vegetables
  • More vegetables
  • and even more vegetables
  • 1 cup of caramelized onions
  • 1 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano
  • 1 cup of fresh ricotta cheese or mozzarella*
  • 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 4 Roma tomatoes (not grilled)
  • fresh basil leaves
  • salt & pepper to taste
*Although i didn't use ricotta or mozzarella when i made this dish, i would definitely use it next time around.  I would combine it with the parmigiano on probably 2 or 3 separate layers.  I grilled all of the vegetables separately the night before.  While grilling, i seasoned the vegetables with salt & pepper and fresh chopped basil.

I then layered everything in a 9" spring form pan.  As you can see, my veggies didn't layer quite as neatly as Stacey's or Marie's.  Perhaps i grilled the veggies a bit too long.  One piece of advice is to use the eggplant on the bottom and top layer.  The only thing i put on top of the top layer of eggplant were grilled shallots, grated Parmigiano and the breadcrumbs.  Oh, and a drizzle of olive oil will make the breadcrumbs golden brown.

Bake in a 350°F. oven for about 45 minutes. 
Let cool for about 15 minutes before removing the side of the pan.  It will be much easier to cut.  Oh... and use a serrated knife!

The ultimate protein 
   (part chicken, turkey, dinosaur)...

I wanted to serve a protein with the vegetable torte.  I was tempted to make grilled shrimps, but after seeing Marie's roasted chicken, i just had to give my hand at this one.  I had never made a roasted chicken, and i figured we could have roasted chicken served room temperature.  I bought what i'm thinking was a cross between a chicken and a turkey, or maybe some kind of prehistoric dinosaur.  This chicken was enormous!  Unfortunately, i forgot to see how much it weighed, but it took just over 3 hours to cook.  When i took the chicken out of the oven, Rho commented that she was surprised i cooked it breast side down.  Much to my surprise, i somehow mistook the chicken's "rump" for the breasts.  Unfortunately, the very crispy skin was the underside of the chicken.  Oh well, once you cut it apart, nobody would know the difference.

Crispy and filled with aroma, but cooked upside down.
 I slathered it with olive oil that i infused with lemon zest and chopped rosemary, and then seasoned with kosher salt and pepper.  I then stuffed the cavity with a couple lemon halves, a head of garlic and some rosemary.  Rarely have i had a chicken where i taste much flavor; i sometimes think it's more of the aromas that surround the chicken.  I was hoping to have plenty of "aromas" surrounding my chick-turk-asaurous.   I think it was good, but not outrageously delicious.  (But is any roasted chicken outrageously delicious?)

Side note -- i've now been back to the market and i think the chicken/turkey/dinosaur weighed about 7.5 pounds.  (Not 75 pounds; 7 and one-half pounds.)

Fresh Fruit for dessert --
For dessert, i served green muscato grapes, white figs that i lightly sauteed in a balsamic, and blackberries.  I'm just learning to enjoy figs.  I LOVE the dried variety, and fig jams too, but the raw figs -- not so much.  
Green muscato grapes, blackberries, and white figs sauteed in balsamic.

Unfortunately the foods didn't turn out quite as delicious as i had hoped.  Maybe this is a sign i should have done "summer salads" or something chilled.  But regardless, we had a great afternoon.

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