fancy shmancy mealy wealy

September 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm 1 comment

Yesterday was the most productive day I’ve had in a long long time! I went to physical therapy, ran every errand on my list (quite a few), cleaned up around the house, and made dinner for my husband and two friends.

I’ve been thinking about this meal for a while, and finally got to put my plan into action. I picked up some summer squash from the farmer’s market and thought, “I wonder what would happen if I baked these in thin slices. Would they turn out like squash crackers?” I decided that if I did bake the squash and maybe some other veggies in thin discs, I could layer them with some sort of filling, top them with some sort of sauce, and have a fancy delicious dinner! The squash didn’t turn into crackers (except maybe the burned ones), but here’s what I ended up with:

Baked Summer Squash and Eggplant slices layered with Butternut Squash “Ricotta”, topped with Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream and Tomato Coulis

veggie stackSorry for the harsh lighting, but the photo turned out pretty well none the less, thanks to Jason Hee and his iphone!

First thing’s first – preheat convection oven to 400 degrees, or normal oven to about 425 degrees.

for the cashew cream
I kind of threw this together, so the measurements aren’t exact. sorry!

ingredients:
about 6 cloves roasted garlic
about 1 cup soaked raw cashews
about 1.5 cups veggie broth
salt and pepper to taste

directions:
blend everything up in a blender until smooth, then heat through in a pan at medium-low heat. set aside.

for tomato coulis
loosely based on this recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/tomato-coulis-alain-coumont

ingredients:
1 can no-salt diced tomatoes (usually this is made with fresh, but I didn’t have any)
8-9 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
5-6 small leaves fresh basil
2 tbsp olive oil
red pepper flakes, salt, pepper to taste

directions
blend everything until smooth!

for filling:

ingredients:
1 large butternut squash
2 yellow onions
1 package firm organic tofu
salt and pepper to taste

directions
roast the butternut squash (I actually used 1 small and one medium squash, cut them into quarters, brushed them in olive oil in a large roasting pan, and roasted in a 400 degree convection oven for about an hour, covered in foil. I had about 3/4 of a squash leftover, so 1 large squash should be plenty.)

caramelize onions by cutting them in half and slicing them thinly, cooking on low heat for 30-40 minutes with a tablespoon or two of olive oil.

when squash and onions are done, drain the tofu and crumble it into a food processor. add onions, squash, salt, and pepper and process until creamy and no chunks remain. you will probably need to scrape down the sides a couple times during the process.

for veggies:

ingredients:
2 medium sized regular zucchini
2 small round zucchini (or more regular zucchini, or any summer squash)
1 large eggplant

directions
slice all veggies into thin rounds (about a quarter of an inch thick)
oil as many large roasting pans or cookie sheets as you want (I did all the veggies in batches using 2 small pans and one large)
lay each slice flat on the pans and brush lightly with olive oil
sprinkle veggies with salt and pepper if you like
bake each batch of veggies for 12-15 minutes

to assemble
1. start with one slice of eggplant, then scoop a large spoonful of filling on top
2. layer three slices zucchini on top, then another spoonful of filling
3. repeat steps 1 and 2, then top off with an eggplant slice.
4. spoon cashew cream over veggie stack until it flows over the edge
5. spoon tomato coulis onto the top center of the stack
6. garnish with a few leaves of fresh basil

On the side I added a very simple salad of wild arugula (or rocket as I’ve been hearing Jaime Oliver call it a lot lately) and sherry vinegar.

We ate this at room temperature, which worked well for the warm summer evening, but I’m sure you could keep everything warm before assembling and eat it that way if you’re organized enough…I definitely am not!

For dessert we had fresh organic strawberries with a little dulce de leche (recipe from Viva Vegan), and some simple chocolate sauce (melt 72% dark chocolate with some vanilla soymilk).

Lessons learned: Productivity good. Cooking fun. Food yum. Friends nice!

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