Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Peg O' My Heart

I hadn't seen my dear friend Peg in 8 years! We finally arranged a visit that lasted only about 24 hours but what a visit! I won't go into all the details but I will tell you this--it involved karaoke, swimming and Champagne on my sundeck.

Peg is a physical trainer and naturally follows a regimen involving dietary restrictions (Champagne is not necessarily one of them). We needed to chat our heads off, so I had a healthy breakfast and lunch that I wanted to mostly prepare at home the day before that wouldn't require a lot of kitchen time and impede on our conversation. Otherwise I made dinner reservations at Blossom, a local vegetarian joint. So the challenge was what could we eat? My thoughts immediately went to Joy Bauer's Slim & Scrumptious cookbook that I featured here recently on Evenings With Peter and also an old mainstay, In The Kitchen With Rosie, written by Oprah's former chef, the spa-trained Rosie Daley. So here are recipes for Apricot Almond Oats and Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches (I omitted the bread and just spread the veggies out on a plate). Although there were just the two of us eating and these recipes supposedly serve four and six people, respectively, make the whole lot even if it's just a meal for one because this is food where availing yourself to further helpings is the only option. Wash it all down with fruity iced tea!

My comments in italics.

Apricot Almond Oats
Adapted from Joy Bauer's Slim & Scrumptious Cookbook
Serves 4 (Serving Size: 1 cup)
1 cup steel-cut oats
15 whole dried apricots, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract (or substitute vanilla extract)

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the oats, chopped apricots, and salt. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the oats are soft and creamy, about 30 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the brown sugar and almond extract.

Grilled Vegetable Sandwich
Adapted from In The Kitchen With Rosie by Rosie Daley
Serves 6
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt I pureed extra firm tofu instead
3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons nonfat cottage cheese
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce I used Sriracha chile sauce
2 tablespoons minced shallot (1 small shallot)
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 small eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1/4 -inch rounds
1 medium yellow squash, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 red onion, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Light vegetable oil cooking spray I ran out halfway through so I splurged with extra virgin olive oil
2 roasted red bell peppers To do this yourself, halve the peppers, core and remove the seeds and broil for 5 minutes or so until the skin blisters, throw in a tightly sealed plastic bag and when cool, pull off the skin and quarter them
2 baguettes Entirely optional
1 large tomato, cored and sliced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper I omitted this
8 fresh basil leaves and 8 arugula leaves Roll up and cut on the bias for a chiffonade

Preheat the broiler.
Put all the dressing ingredients in a blender and mix at low speed until smooth. Set aside.
Arrange the eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, and onion in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning and cayenne pepper over all of the rounds. Spray the vegetable oil over to coat lightly. Broil the vegetables for about 5 minutes, until brown, turn the rounds over, and brown the other side. Remove the cookie sheet, leaving the broiler on.
Toast halved baguettes if you wish 2 minutes per side. Layer your vegetables either on the baguettes or on a platter, drizzle your dressing, gussy it up with your chiffonade and do enjoy!

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