The fun thing about working in an office is going out to lunch, especially when you work in a thriving foodie corner like San Francisco’s Mission district (see evidence). But working from home presents some lazy lunch temptations. Thinking about my upcoming beach vacation, I decided to trade grilled cheese for veggies…
1. Take a tortilla, spread goat cheese on it, add your veggies of choice and roll it up. I used mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, spinach and greens. Optional: Cut into 1-inch slices so you can enjoy the pinwheels of colorful veggies and textures.
2. Good news: you can still be lazy about lunch, and eat healthy. This Butternut Squash Ravioli with Walnuts frozen meal from Safeway is low calorie and packed with colorful veggies. The sauce is really good too! If you’re like me and prefer not to microwave plastic, then you can remove the frozen block, put it on a plate and cover it with a bowl. Just decrease the microwave time slightly.
In the third and last chapter of desperation in the kitchen, I used my stash of white beans, frozen chicken breasts, onion and spices to make an amended version (for spicy weaklings) of Epicurious’ White Bean Chicken Chili. You’ll see some suggestions at the end on how to make it vegan or vegetarian, as well.
It’s pretty simple when you break it down. I sauteed onion, oregano and cumin; and added the frozen chicken breasts directly on one side of the pan. They required more cooking time since they were frozen, but easy regardless. Next, you basically add the beans and water (I didn’t have chicken broth) and it thickens over time. Note: I don’t think chicken is necessary; you could skip that step and I don’t think you’d miss it.
David and I are both sensitive to spicy foods, so I skipped the green chilies, red pepper and cilantro. Also, a tablespoon of cumin was too much; I almost wondered if it was a typo. In order to cut down on heat, I added about 3/4 a stick of butter towards the end, and it did the trick. (I skipped the whipping cream, so that may have had something to do with it.)
So to summarize, if you cut down on cumin and skipped the chicken, chicken broth and butter/cream, you’d have a vegan, dairy-free white bean chili.
Tis the season for homemade lasagna. I made my very first batch on one of those “clean out the fridge” nights before vacation. Using a recipe for “Roasted Vegetable Lasagna” from Everyday Food, I modified the types of cheese and vegetables, using ricotta, mozzarella, diced tomatoes, spinach, peas and no-bake lasagna noodles.
Tonight I made David-style lasagna (i.e. heavy on the dairy products) from an Epicurious recipe adapted with homemade bechamel sauce, spinach, mozzarella, and three kinds of cheese (parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar and cottage – hey I was desperate). Because I used a larger pan, the layers weren’t as thick. I’d recommend sticking to a 9×13 or 9×9 pan for a thicker bite. Still delicious though!
Turns out there are endless variations of vegetarian lasagna. You can swap out the veggies, cheese and red/white sauce to your liking. It’s not hard, it just takes time.
Seasonal veggies + cleaning out the fridge = experimental vegetarian. Last week’s pre-made dinners were a breeze, and with the short holiday week I set out to create a similar outcome. I started with enchiladas, which are hearty enough for three nights as a main course – and not to be mistaken as healthy or vegetarian! 😉
From there, I had an overabundance of Capay vegetables left to deal with: butternut squash, collard greens, cabbage, carrots, and apples, oh my! I searched high and low on Epicurious and Everyday Food, and came up with the following items:
Butternut Squash, Apples and Braising Greens – An adaptation of SF chef Traci des Jardin’s recipe on Epicurious; I used butternut squash in place of sweet potatoes (based on the reviews I wasn’t the only one to do so!) and collard greens. I didn’t have parsley, but didn’t notice. Tomorrow night, I might try blending the dish and adding it to stock to make a soup – another reader’s suggestion.
Vegetable Stock – The perfect solution to freeze for later use! Using ideas from Martha Stewart, Sam Beall and Epicurous, I made my own hybrid by sauteeing chopped onions in olive oil, and then adding chopped cabbage, 5-6 cups of water, sliced carrots, dried oregano, a little white wine, and salt and pepper. After boiling for an hour, I strained out the veggies and brought the stock to room temperature before putting in tupperware for the freezer.
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