Once on week I make a meatless meal, much to the disconcertion of my husband. He hates them. He knows, intellectually, it’s a good idea but the complaints beforehand, egads, it drives me crazy!! But I soldier on, try to ignore him and cook up something, with LOVE. You probably know by now that I love salads, but salads are not very inviting with all this cold weather we’re having here on the East Coast. And raw foods are very good for you. So I made up this Vegetarian Delight with warm beans and roasted veggies, including the tomatoes, on a base of raw baby spinach leaves.
By golly, he loved it! He kept on talking about it – even the next morning! BINGO, I know something is really good if he’s still talking about the next morning AND it’s meatless too! This is packed full of nutrients, delicious with the contrasts of the cool baby spinach leaves and the warm roasted vegetables, even on a frigid winter night. The roasted shallots and crushed garlic cloves were a brilliant addition providing bursts of flavor, complementing the sweet parsnips while the warm, slightly roasted tomatoes provided the right acidity. The Midnight Moon goat cheese is a wonderful splurge, but not really necessary if you are a true vegetarian. We loved this dinner and it’s going to be repeated often in our household.
Truly, I just made this with the vegetables I had on hand. You can try your own combination but I will say that this blend was really yummy. I hope you’ll try it and it makes your recipe regulars too.
VEGETARIAN DELIGHT serves 2
2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves – about 4 – 5 oz., washed and spun dry
1 – 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed and drained again
1 Italian eggplant, cut in 3/4” slices, roasted
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into julienned strips
1 zucchini, cut into 1/4” slices
2 shallots, peeled and quartered
1/2 of a poblano pepper, cut into 1/4” strips
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tomato from the vine, cut into 6 or 8 wedges
3 grape tomatoes, cut in half
Midnight Moon hard goat cheese, cut into small strips
Toasted pine nuts
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slick a cookie sheet or flat roasting pan with peanut oil. Arrange eggplant slices on the sheet, salt with fine sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Roast the eggplant on the bottom rack of your oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until nicely browned on the bottom while you roast the other vegetables on the top rack at the same time. Roast the top mixed vegetables for 20 minutes, then add the tomatoes and toss and roast for 5 – 10 minutes longer, until all the vegetables are fork tender. Toast the pine nuts in a separate pan for 5 – 10 minutes until lightly browned.
Meanwhile, make your dressing, prepare the cheese and warm the beans in the microwave for a minute on high.
Assemble your salads. Place the spinach leaves on the plate, top with the warm beans (you may not use all of them – save them for tomorrow’s lunch), remove the eggplant slices with a metal spatula so you don’t loose the lovely browned bottom.
Place 4 eggplant slices on each salad, browned side up. Toss the other vegetables and place a nice amount on top. (You probably won’t use all of these either). Drizzle dressing over all and top with cheese and pine nuts. Serve immediately and enjoy!