Melty Leeks

One of my favorite spring and summer finds is the leek.  This is an onion, but when cooked down is all melty sweet goodness and none of the usual onion sharpness.  Leeks work as a great topping, accompaniment, flavor addition, etc. etc.–they do it all!  In this recipe, they are going to add flavor to my favorite quick dinner:  a frittata.  I love frittatas because in a pinch you can still have a filling and veggie-laden dinner on the table within 20 minutes.  Serve with fruit and maybe some whole grain bread, and you’re set!

Leeks are pretty easy to clean.  First, slice in half lengthwise, second, rinse all the fronds individually and let dry, third slice thinly, and fourth, cook down with olive oil, salt and pepper.  It looks like a lot of onions in the pan, but they cook down quite a bit.

spring fritatta 12

This frittata has leeks, potatoes, red pepper, and mixed greens.

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Once you cook down the leeks, add the red pepper and cook just a few minutes more.  Add the leeks and red pepper in a bowl with the greens and set aside.

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Sauté the potato rounds, add the greens back to the pan, pour on the eggs.

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Let it cook for 7-10 minutes on the burner, then slide the oven-safe pan into the oven to finish cooking through.

Frittatas also work great as a sandwich on the go!

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VEGGIE FRITTATA

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 6-10 eggs
  • 1 cup milk or half-and-half
  • 2 leek stalks, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 3 small potatoes (red or gold preferable), thinly sliced
  • 2 loosely-packed cups of mixed greens

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Beat the eggs and milk or half-and half, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.  Set the mixed greens in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Coat a large (oven-proof) sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium-low.  Add the leeks and salt and pepper to taste, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are golden and melty looking.  Add the red pepper and sauté for a few minutes more until the pepper is crisp tender.  Remove from the heat and add to the bowl with the mixed greens.
  4. Put the sauté pan back on the heat and coat with olive oil.  Raise heat to medium-high and add the sliced potatoes in one single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown.  Flip and cook again until golden brown on the other side.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the mixed green mixture on top of the potatoes.  Pour the egg mixture evenly over top of all the veggies.  Cook until the egg is just set on the bottom, about 7-10 minutes.  Place the pan in the oven and cook for about 15-20 more minutes, until the eggs are slightly jiggly in the center but not wet.

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Garden Vegetable Eggs Florentine

In our family, two of us have a “sweet tooth switch” and two of us do not.  You know, the switch that flips when you’ve had enough sweets and you know it’s time to put down the spoon and not even have that last bite.  I have that switch; I prefer savory to sweet, breakfast included.  Breakfast for dinner included.  Throw hash browns into any breakfast for dinner meal and I’m a happy camper!
primavera eggs florentine 1 primavera eggs florentine 3

Eggs Florentine is the perfect recipe to add garden vegetables.  The eggs and milk are creamy and soft and the summer garden vegetables add a savory note that deepens the flavor of the dish.  After the first bite my husband and I looked at each other and sighed.  Ok, maybe I was doing the sighing, but both of us cleaned our plates–down to the last bite!

primavera eggs florentine 2


GARDEN VEGETABLE EGGS FLORENTINE

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Weeknight Vegetarian

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 thick slices of rustic bread, diced into course crumbs
  • thyme (fresh, 2 teaspoons finely chopped, dried, just a few shakes)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 5 cups mixed greens
  • 2 small to medium zucchini, quartered and sliced into little triangles
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup half and half

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.  Spray two 4-cup baking dishes with cooking spray and place them on a timed baking sheet.
  2. Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium.  Add the bread crumbs, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the bread crumbs are browned and crisp, about 5 minutes.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat to medium-high heat.  Add the diced onion, garlic, and zucchini and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the mixed greens and salt and pepper to taste and toss with tongs until the greens are wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Evenly divide the vegetable mixture between the two baking dishes.  Crack two eggs into each dish, on top of the vegetable mixture.  Evenly divide the half and half among the dishes, pouring around the eggs, and evenly divide the tomatoes among the baking dishes.  Bake, rotating the baking dishes once, until the egg whites are set and the yolks are slightly runny, about 12 to 15 minutes.
  5. Before serving sprinkle the toasted bread crumbs over top, and salt and pepper, if needed.

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Nothing Like a Waffle Celebration!

Waffles are pretty darn near the top of my list when it comes to thinking of celebration foods.    A good waffle is crunchy the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, buttery, and not too sweet, and definitely not dense.  This waffle celebration comes in the form of corn.  We are celebrating the last bits of farm-stand fresh corn you might have on hand, as I did.  We are celebrating the last bits of summer sun before diving head-first into the beauties of fall:  sweaters, crisp runs, and roasted winter squashes.

I wanted to make a vegetarian version of chicken and waffles, and use some fresh corn I had.  So.  I made basil cornbread waffles topped with white bean cassoulet and maple-glazed carrots and cauliflower.  Phew!  That’s a mouthful.  As are these waffles.  This meal is definitely not for the faint-hearted.  And definitely for the celebratory-hearted!

cornbread basil waffles bean cassoule

For the cornbread, I found this recipe a few years ago, and always keep a container of it in my cupboard, so I can throw together cornbread–or cornbread waffles–lickety-split.  It makes the moistest (moist-y-est?  most moist?)cornbread I’ve ever had!  I added the fresh corn cut from the cob and some fresh julienned basil, threw it on the waffle maker, and voila!

Cassoulet is traditionally a bean stew with meat, but I made mine without meat; just a lovely white bean stew.  I used dried white beans, and started from scratch, letting them soak for a full 24 hours.  You can let dried beans soak for just 8 hours, but I like to let them soak for a full 24, I think it yields a creamier bean.  After trimming the fresh corn from the cob, you can use the cobs with all that creamy corn “milk” to sweeten and thicken your bean stew.  This is what it’ll look like after simmering for a good 6-8 hours.  If using dry beans requires too much of your time and energy, feel free to use canned beans.  Look for the altered recipe suggestion in the recipe.

cornbread waffle beans

I also like using a flour/butter paste as a thickener.  This makes a luscious and silky stew without any lumps to be seen.  At this point, you could add some noodles and some fresh or canned tomatoes, some parsley, biscuits on the side, and you have a great bean stew dinner.  But we’re going to add another layer for our waffle celebration…cornbread waffle thickener

Pan-roasting carrots and cauliflower will make them sweet, and adding maple syrup will only sweeten the deal.  I used rainbow carrots for more color and fun, but if you have plain jane orange carrots in your fridge, use those.  A little lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, and julienned basil on top, and your celebration is complete!

cornbread basil waffles bean cassoule


BASIL CORNBREAD WAFFLES TOPPED WITH WHITE BEAN CASSOULET AND MAPLE-GLAZED CARROTS AND CAULIFLOWER

  • Servings: party-sized
  • Difficulty: this can be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it; canned or dried beans being a big part of that
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WAFFLE INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups of your favorite cornbread recipe
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned

WHITE BEAN CASSOULE INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup dried white beans, soaked for 24 hours (alternatively you can use 2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 6-7 corn cobs (if you don’t have fresh corn, just omit the cobs)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves included
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature, and 4 tablespoons flour; mix together as a paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

MAPLE-GLAZED CARROTS AND CAULIFLOWER

  • 3 carrots, peeled, cut in half, and then cut in large chunks
  • 1/2 cauliflower head, trimmed and cut in florets
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
  • 1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup, depending on how sweet you want this topping to be
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

DIRECTIONS

  1. FOR DRIED BEANS:  Start with the cassoulet, as that will take time to simmer, and you can do the other things while the cassoulet is simmering.  If you are using dried beans, this will be your first step, as it’s an overnight step.  Soak them in four times the amount of beans you have.  So if you are doing 1 cup of beans, soak them in 4 cups of water, and let them sit at room temperature 8-24 hours.
  2. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large pot.  On medium to medium-high heat, saute the onion, carrot, and celery with salt and pepper until the onion is soft.  Add the beans, corn cobs, cilantro, and about 10 cups of water.  Allow to come to a soft boil, then lower heat to low, and let simmer for the next 6-8 hours.  Stir occasionally, and you will add another 6-10 more cups of water throughout the  simmering process until the beans are cooked through.  You will know it’s done when the beans and water come together as a thin stew, instead of looking like just water with beans in it.  Remove the corn cobs and whisk in the butter/flour paste.  This will thicken the stew and you can let it rest, covered, while you are getting everything else ready.
  3. FOR CANNED BEANS:  Still do everything in step 2, but you will only add about 6-8 cups of water after sautéing the veggies and beans.  You can still add the corn cobs at this point, but chop about 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minus the stems (as you won’t have that long simmer time for the cilantro to cook down and sort of dissolve/melt into your stew).  Simmer the stew about 20 minutes, and add the flour/butter paste.  You may not need to add as much of the paste to thicken the stew.  Start with 2 tablespoons and add more if desired (just remember it’s equal parts flour/butter, mashed together).
  4. While the beans are simmering, mix together the waffle ingredients.  Use your favorite cornbread recipe and mix according to directions.  Add 3 cups fresh or frozen corn, and the 1/4 cup julienned basil.  Make your waffles.  I usually let mine rest on a cookie rack so they don’t get mushy while I’m making everything else.
  5. In a large saute pan, add enough olive oil to coat the pan and heat to medium-high.  Add the carrots and cauliflower and season with salt and pepper.  Let the veggies cook until there’s a little golden color on them, then add the 3 cups fresh or frozen corn and stir, sautéing for a few more minutes.  Lowering the heat to medium, add the basil and maple syrup and let simmer until you can smell the basil.  Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter, whisking until it all comes together as a sauce.
  6. You are definitely going to need some acid to cut all these rich flavors, so you can add both the lemon juice and zest at this point, right into the sauce, or add just the zest in the sauce, then serve lemon quarters on the side so everyone can squeeze their own fresh lemon overtop their waffles.  Also top with more fresh basil.

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Poached Eggs on Toast

poached eggs on toast

My favorite breakfast when I was little was poached eggs on buttered toast.  Something about that salt-sprinkled cracked egg yolk running over crispy crunchy, sweet, buttered toast–warm, yummy, and comforting.  Whenever I hear those famous chef-folk talk about “umami”, it’s always a somewhat nebulous mystery to me–what do they mean by umami?!  Why do they use the word in the definition?!–that doesn’t help anyone understand what they are talking about when they are licking their lips after downing sea urchin, soy sauce, and other “ocean-y” tasting things.  Is umami like drinking the ocean, or what?!

And then I remembered the salty, homey, earthy taste of poached eggs on buttered toast–and I realized, in my opinion, that’s what umami is!  Not the ocean per se, but that otherwise indescribably melty, homey, hint of salt flavor.

And when you’re all grown up, it’s only right to put something green on that toast, right?!  Homemade toasted 10-grain whole wheat bread topped with smashed lime avocado, sautéed asparagus, fresh tomato slices, poached eggs, and grapefruit sections on the side.


POACHED EGGS WITH LIME AVOCADO AND FRESH VEGGIES ON TOAST

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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You can top your toast with any veggies you’d like–peas, broccoli, etc.; I had fresh tomatoes and asparagus on hand so that’s what I used.

INGREDIENTS

  • bread of choice for toasting
  • 1-2 avocados (1 will be sufficient for 2 slices of toast)
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • 1 garden fresh tomato
  • 15-20 asparagus stalks
  • 1 egg per piece of toast

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring a pot of water to a slow simmer over medium heat.
  2. While water is heating, first, toast bread and butter slices.  Next, trim and sauté the asparagus stalks in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. The water should be ready for poaching the eggs at this point.  It’s true what they say–add a splash of vinegar and it will keep the egg white tighter while poaching.  Gently drop the eggs in the water and watch so they don’t over-poach, maybe 3-4 minutes total.
  4. While eggs are poaching, shuck the avocados and smash in a bowl with the lime juice, add salt and pepper to taste.  Slice fresh tomatoes.
  5. Layer toast: lime avocado, sautéed asparagus, one slice of tomato, poached egg, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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