Easy, delicious and vegetarian

Since I’ve been feeling pretty exhausted lately, not to mention enormous, I’ve been trying to find some easy vegetarian recipes that are healthy, as well as providing good nutrients and enough protein to get me through these last (endless) weeks of pregnancy. Here are some of the goodies I’ve made:

Quiche1I found a delicious recipe for a tomato-basil quiche. It’s awesome because it uses mainly staples you’d probably have in your cupboard and fresh ingredients from the fridge (okay, maybe not the basil, I don’t know you). Also, I happened to have an empty store-bought pie shell I wanted to use up to make room in my freezer, so that is probably what make this so incredibly easy. Once you have that, it’s simply a matter of layering the ingredients into it.

1 unbaked pastry shell, homemade or store-bought

ONION MIXTURE

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, chopped

EGG MIXTURE

3 large eggs

1 cup evaporated milk, fat-free or regular, shaken well

1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper

ASSEMBLE

8 ounces part-skim mozzarella, shredded

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.

PASTRY Arrange pastry in 10-inch deep-dish pie pan or quiche pan. With your fingers, form a decorative edge. Chill the crust while continuing.

ONION MIXTURE In a skillet, gently sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until golden.

EGG MIXTURE In a blender, combine eggs, evaporated milk, cornstarch and pepper.

ASSEMBLE Spread Onion Mixture and then cheese over pastry. Arrange tomatoes decoratively in a single layer over cheese. Arrange chopped basil atop tomatoes. (You can prepare ahead this far, making later preparations extra quick.) Carefully pour Egg Mixture into pie shell without disturbing tomatoes.

Quiche2

Here’s another oven shot! I love the bright colours of this.

BAKE Bake 45 minutes or until knife inserted in middle can be removed clean. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Quiche3And there you go – easier than pie. This was delicious and seconds were had.

I love the plummy colour of eggplant.

I love the plummy colour of eggplant.

My other attempt at a healthy veggie main did not go over quite as well. I have been wanting to make eggplant parmagiana for ages. The main setback to this is my husband HATES eggplant. I decided to be awful and make it anyways. I went with a fancy recipe I found on the Food Network website, courtesy Mario Batali. My thinking was if this dish was good enough, Z might just get over his dislike of the food. Sigh.

The best find of this recipe is it comes with a basic tomato sauce, something I’ve been looking for for awhile. It’s healthy and really yummy. Since I’m positive my go-to canned pasta sauce is loaded with msg, this will become (I hope) a new staple at my house.

Basic tomato sauce:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
  • Salt

Tomato Sauce:

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft.

The veggies were so aromatic - thyme is a fantastic herb.

The veggies were so aromatic – thyme is a fantastic herb.

Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Yield: 4 cups

Eggplant3

Eggplant Parmagiana:

Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggplant, about 2 pounds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs, lightly toasted under broiler

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Using some extra-virgin olive oil, oil a baking sheet.

Slice each eggplant into 6 pieces about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. Lightly season each disk with salt and pepper and place on the oiled sheet. Bake the eggplant at 450 degrees F until the slices begin turning deep brown on top, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the eggplants from the oven. Remove the slices from the baking sheet and place them on a plate to cool.

Eggplant5

Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In an 8 by 12-inch brownie pan, place the 4 largest eggplant slice evenly spaced apart. Over each slice, spread 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and sprinkle with a teaspoon of basil. Place one slice of mozzarella over each and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon grated Parmigiano. Place the smaller slices of eggplant over each of the disks and repeat with tomato sauce, basil, and the 2 cheeses. Repeat the layering again until all the ingredients are used.

Building time! The most fun part of the recipe was making this little towers.

Building time! The most fun part of the recipe was making this little towers.

Sprinkle the toasted bread crumbs over the top of the eggplant dish, and bake uncovered until the cheese is melts and the tops turn light brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Eggplant7

And the final result. I love the look of the whole thing, and I thought it was delicious. Z remained unconvinced. He conceded that they were done as well as they could possibly be done, but there is just something about eggplant he can’t get behind – the texture, I guess. Too bad. He did eat every bite, and I made him watch the Golden Globes with me, so he definitely gets an award in being awesome. This recipe probably won’t be repeated too much around here (while Z is around, anyways).

Word of the day:

Quiescent: being at rest; quiet; still; inactive or motionless: a quiescent mind.

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