|Roasted Vegetables and Sauteed Spinach|
One of the reasons I started this blog was that I wanted a public forum to share my kitchen adventures - chronicling all the new techniques, ingredients, and recipes that I tried as a part of my vegetarian lifestyle. Through this blog, I am held accountable not only to myself, but also to my readership. With my readers awaiting recipes and stories of success and failure, I avoid falling prey to lazy, unimaginative dinners of fried eggs, peanut butter sandwiches, or hummus. And guess what? So far, it has worked. With only a little more than two weeks left on this little journey, I haven't had eggs for dinner once. I've only made peanut butter and banana sandwiches when I'm on the go, like on the bus to New York, at last week's Wizards game, or during an afternoon of errand running. And my Rockin' Moroccan white bean dip stuffed in a wrap with veggies is the closest I've gotten to a hummus-only meal.
I've published one post a day, Monday through Friday, for almost a month now. And I hate to say it, but I've been cooking so much that I'm a little bit tired of it. This speaks volumes. I'm one of those weirdos that derives immense pleasure in the entire process of preparing a meal. I love going to the grocery store or farmers' market and selecting the stars of a dish. I enjoy selecting fresh herbs to accent and enhance the flavors of a dish. I think sharpening my knives is fun, and take pride in the methodical way I dice vegetables into uniform pieces. I love my handtools, like my immersion blender, vegetable peeler, and multipurpose hand grater, and the way they make it so easy to zest lemons and mince ginger. Don't even get me started on sauteeing onions in olive oil, butter, and garlic, or removing the lid of a pot of soup and inhaling the deep scent of herbs and vegetables simmering away.
But as happy as those things make me, sometimes I come home and just want to microwave a packet of Tasty Bite madras lentils, poach an egg, or get takeout. Not that there's anything wrong with doing those things, but y'all wouldn't read my blog if that's what I had for dinner every night (and likewise, I wouldn't be keeping an online journal). So luckily, while I can get away with lazy days once in a while, I also have a convenient backup - roasted vegetables.
Now, I know I roast a lot of vegetables. Roasted vegetable and quinoa stuffed eggplant. Roasted vegetable salad. Roasted brussels sprouts and quinoa. But it's just so easy! On the particular night that I roasted these beauties, I was tired and not particularly enthused about making dinner. So I roasted some vegetables. I turned the oven on 425, removed some peeled and diced butternut squash from the freezer (left over from this amaz butternut squash pasta recipe), diced a red pepper, and opened a six-ounce box of sliced baby bellas. I tossed the vegetables in olive oil, sea salt, and pepper (but you could also choose to use fresh or dried herbs like basil and oregano). I spread the vegetables on a roasting pan, hopped in the shower, and after 12 minutes, turned the vegetables. I put them back in the oven, dried my hair, and another 12 minutes minutes later, they were finished. I quickly sauteed some spinach in garlic and lemon juice, and then topped the bed of greens with the charred vegetables and sprinkled feta cheese on top (though you could easily make it vegan by removing the cheese). I had a delicious meal in less than a half an hour, without even really doing any "cooking". If you're hungry or in need of some protein, add some chickpeas. Now how easy is that?
Of course, the other thing you can do when you're sick of cooking is go out to eat. Last night I went to Cafe Ole, a hidden gem near Tenleytown. Concentrating on Mediterranean-style small plates, and with a plethora of vegetarian options (helpfully denoted on the menu), this place was right up my alley! Unfortunately, my pictures didn't turn out, but the food was delicious. We ordered an all-vegetarian meal of the hummus platter, the olive orzo salad, the chickpea pizette, and the sangria....all were amazing! The orzo salad (Toscana salata) was my favorite, an orzo lightly coated in roasted red pepper puree, tossed with kalamata olives, artichokes, and parmesan cheese, and topped with a thick lemon aioli. My date didn't really care for it, which was fine....more for me! I was also totally impressed by the black bean hummus (spiced with cumin and topped with cilantro) and the pizette (chickpea dough topped with wild mushroom ragout and cheesy parmesan arugula). The only disappointment was that there was supposed to be baba ganoush on the hummus platter but it was replaced with a lackluster tabbouleh salad. And the sangria (always, always red!) met my seal of approval, not an easy feat. Check it out!
I'm kicking my weekend off tonight with a Tarot card reading courtesy of Brittany's mom and aunt. Yes. Not a joke. I'm openly skeptical about those things, but it's all in good fun, and plus, there will be plenty of libations to smooth anxiety and lessen the damage from any not-so-stellar readings. I'm actually really excited to see what the ladies think my future holds! Then, I'm looking forward to a Mexican dinner for Lindsey's birthday and karaoke with some visiting friends from NYC. Should be a whirlwind of a weekend!
What does everybody have planned this weekend?