Okay, it’s the bottom of the 8th, (Monday night)….. you’re the home team, (cook), and you find yourself with lots of infielders (vegetables) but no plan for their use and you just can’t imagine how to get through the next 3 or 4 innings (meals) without a pinch hitter (help!!!). Okay, okay, so the men with whom I live (one very young and the other, like me, not so young anymore) have filled my life with baseball talk, but baseball makes for good summertime analogies. I’ve grown to enjoy baseball even though it seems to be on every night!!, but I confess that I do get tired of cooking every night, especially in the summertime. Both of my men help out with the dishes but neither likes to cook nearly so much as they like to eat. Plus, I’ve got veggies from the garden as well as an abundance of cheap summer produce that I couldn’t resist buying at the grocery store. The plan, therefore, is to take care of several meals at once with less than 1 hour of time – not all of it requiring me to be present. Peek out the window, look in the fridge – send a runner out to 2nd base (to pick) or to 3rd base (to buy) some veggies and keep the team fed for several days.
On this particular day on the pitchers mound, I had yellow peppers, swiss chard, zucchini, eggplant, red onion and baby portabella mushrooms. I didn’t think a pile of these on a plate in their whole form would go over so well, and they were not going to be fresh for very long so I chopped them all. Go ahead, slice and dice whatever you have in the frig or just picked that is not already ear-marked for use in the next few days. You don’t have to dice them small, just cut ’em into hunks.
I then chose to roast half the zucchini, eggplant and peppers, along with the red onion tossed in a little avocado oil (or oil of your choice) and salt at about 400 degrees for about 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally.
The other half of the zucchini, peppers and eggplant were sauteed with the mushrooms, a couple of cloves of garlic, 1-2 tsp each of basil, thyme and oregano (throw in rosemary as well if you like – I do), and salt adding as much swiss chard (or spinach or WHATEVER green) as you can stuff into the saute pan when you are satisfied with the tenderness of your eggplant, mushrooms and zucchini. Let the greens wilt, stirring.
Okay, so now that you’ve prepared these massive quantities of vegetables you have many dinner options – and vegetables that will keep more than a few days, or can be frozen for a future easy meal.
ROASTEE: To the roasted vegetables add: 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 – 2 tsp Tabil spice blend
OR some more salt and pepper to taste
OR some soy sauce and sesame oil
OR some mexican spices like ground cumin, oregano and chili powder
Serve any of these over grain;
with or without meat, tofu, tempeh or nuts (walnuts and pistachios are particularly good with such blends)
or on top of baked potatoes or mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes;
Or in pita pockets with hummus or hummus mixed with a little extra lemon juice
Or over tortilla chips with salsa and/or cheese
I have never frozen roasted vegetables because we also eat them as snacks, or added to salads cold, and they don’t last long enough to make it to the freezer.
SAUTEE: Split the sauteed veggies in half. Freeze one half. To the remaining half add one 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (or equivalent fresh, and one 6 oz. can tomato paste and serve over pasta, potatoes or grain.
The frozen half can be use for the same purpose several weeks later when they’re itching for pasta again and all you have to do is provide something to go under it.
And of course you can top your pasta with whatever you like – cheese or vegan toppings.
And when you’ve loaded up the roasting pans and the frying pan and there’s a bit left over, pop it into small containers to send in someone’s lunch or to camp…. or to the baseball game! Because who needs nasty, dry, chemicalized popcorn when you can have these golden beauties?
Enjoy the bounty of summer, the bounty of evenings with half prepared meals awaiting you, and the joy of hearing your favorite announcer tell you (and the kitchen), “That one is outta here folks – See you Later!!”