Friday, April 3, 2015

Eat your vegetables with sauce

Pretty much everyone who knows me and anyone who reads this blog understands that I have a ginormous sweet tooth.  Just witness the last blog post, all about cake and sweets and decadence.  No wonder my dentist always asks me "How many sweets do you eat?"  I give a him a sideways look and promise to floss more so that he will drop the subject.
But even I have to retreat from sugar every once in a while.  However, you will never find me gnawing on plain celery sticks or those oddly shaped carrot nubs.  I will eat my vegetables but only after they have been properly prepared in order to entice me to do so.
First, one has to consider the state of the vegetables.  If they are in season and practically falling off the vine, tomatoes can and should be eaten raw.  Unfortunately, in the winter months, I completely abstain from fresh tomatoes because the ones in the supermarket make me sad and wishing for midsummer.  Instead, anything that can be roasted is a great idea to me. Red peppers, broccoli, asparagus, green beans and even Brussels sprouts (I hated them as a child.  Val used to boil them.) are delicious when tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper then baked in a hot oven.  This is a super easy way to prepare a platter full.  They can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature.


Then, there must be some sort of sauce. And I don't mean any old salad dressing from a bottle.  The sauce must be thick, almost like a dip and it should also be flavorful.  Think: garlic, lemons and a hint of hot pepper. It can be a little caloric as well because it is a sauce, not a soup so in most cases, I will only be employing it as a garnish.  The following recipes cover the best of both worlds: one is creamy and a little fatty, the other is all out healthy.  I like to make both as they complement each other well and the leftovers are great on sandwiches, pizza or straight out of the bowl by the spoonful.  Of course, that would defeat the purpose of pretending to be healthy for at least one meal of the day. 

Roasted Vegetables with Lemon Garlic Aioli and Fresh Herb Gremolata
(Serves 6)
Prepare the sauces up to 2 days ahead:
Lemon Garlic Aioli
1 small head garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wrap garlic loosely in foil.  Place in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until garlic is soft when squeezed.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  (Garlic can be baked  a few days ahead and placed in refrigerator until ready to be used.)
Cut garlic head in half.  Squeeze out softened cloves into a small food processor or blender.  Add mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce.  Blend until garlic is incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate sauce until ready to serve.
Fresh Herb Gremolata
1 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8- 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
Place parsley, garlic and olive oil in a small food processor or blender. Blend ingredients until parsley is leaves are chopped fine and olive oil is well incorporated.  Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes.  Blend again.  Add salt and pepper to taste and more red pepper flakes if desired.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Roasted Vegetables
1 lb asparagus
1 lb Brussels sprouts
1 large red pepper
(or any other vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, zucchini, summer squash, onions, etc.)
olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
Wash all vegetables.  Snap off asparagus ends, peel dead leaves off  Brussels sprouts and slice in half.  Cut red pepper into 2" chunks.  Lay vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Bake vegetables for 15 to 25 minutes until edges are browned and vegetables are soft.  Toss vegetables once or twice during baking. Remove from oven and serve warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy with delicious sauces!!

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