Three Vegetarian Dishes & Two New Album Releases!

I really like this time of year as the seasons transition from summer to fall. We use up all the last of the summer vegetables and start to mix in some of the fall harvest vegetables. I find it to be such a comforting time of year. Here are three vegetarian dishes I made recently that satisfied my craving for comfort foods without being too heavy. All three made for great leftovers throughout the week.

This first one I made a few weeks ago and didn’t write it down but I just sauteed some of the last of the summer veggies all together- tomatoes, onion, yellow squash, okra and kale. I coated tofu with a spicy corn meal blend and then baked it in the oven. The crispy tofu steaks were then served on top of the veggie saute.

We love dining out with our friends Robby & Annie Klaver Hecht (you should check out Robby’s music here!) and we usually spend half the time talking about all the food we’ve been cooking. Recently, Annie told me about a meal similar to this that they put together. Her version had meatballs and a different tomato sauce. Since I had already roasted tomatoes and wanted a veggie meal, I adapted it into this…

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes and Eggplant
a handful Tomatoes (Romas, Cherry…), cut in half
1 Onion, cut in small pieces
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp Oregano (and/or Parsley, Basil, or any Italian or Mediterranean Herbs)
Olive Oil
1 large Eggplant
1 Spaghetti Squash
Whole Wheat Spaghetti
4 oz Chevre, crumbled
½ -1 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano

In an oven safe dish, line the tomato halves and onion. Sprinkle with olive oil, garlic, and herbs. Roast on 375 for about half an hour. Meanwhile, cut the spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and place each half face down in another oven safe dish. Roast in the oven on 375 for about half an hour. Set both aside. Wash the eggplant and then rub with a little olive oil. Place it on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan and place in the oven on broil for 7 minutes on each side. Remove from oven. Cool. Once you can touch it, peel the skin off. Scoop the eggplant into a blender or food processor with the roasted tomato mixture and blend to make a sauce. Add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the whole wheat spaghetti. Once it is done, drain it and place spaghetti in a large casserole dish. With a fork, scoop the spaghetti squash out and mix with the pasta. Mix the sauce and crumbled chevre in with the squash and pasta. Top with grated cheese and stick back in the oven for a few minutes to melt cheese and heat throughout.

This is the non-baked version… Just pasta mixed with Spaghetti Squash with the roasted sauce on top, sprinkled with Parmesan Reggiano.

Many of our cooking ideas come about simply based on what we have around the house that needs to be eaten. This next one was a result of that. We seem to always have some kale, some Parmesan Reggiano, and whatever produce is in season. The beautiful fall squashes are so tempting now that I usually pick one up without having a plan of what I will do with it. This was one of those cases. Oh, and I should also mention that doggers love butternut squash! I try to always buy two so I can roast one up to mix in with their food. More veggies are good for everyone.

Autumn Vegetable Medley
1 bunch Lacinato Kale, washed and cut into small strips
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
¼ Lemon
½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Red Onion, cut in half and then in rings
1 Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Maple Syrup
Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste
1 cup Toasted Walnuts, chopped
½ cup grated Parmesan Reggiano

First, mix the kale with the garlic, crushed red pepper, and sea salt. Sprinkle with a little drizzle of olive oil and the lemon juice. Massage and mix together with your hands. Let sit to marinate while you toast the walnuts and prepare the onion and squash. Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the red onion. Stir occasionally. Add the apple cider vinegar. Once the onion has cooked down, add the butternut squash cubes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally. Salt & pepper as you wish. Once the squash is tender, add the kale and saute for a minute or two. Add the maple syrup. Pour the contents into a bowl or serving dish. Stir in the walnuts and cheese and serve!

There sure are so many talented musicians living in our little part of Nashville. It’s amazing really. I feel so incredibly lucky. And it isn’t all country music either. I seem to be hanging out at our favorite neighborhood venue lots lately, mainly because Grant plays there often.

I know, I rarely even mention the non-twangy stuff but there are a couple of super talented guys who seem to defy all genres for me and both had releases this past week so I thought it was worth mentioning. I guess the thing that ties them together for me, besides living in the same neighborhood and being friends is that Grant has played pedal steel for both which gave me the distinct privilege of hearing their brand new songs over and over (and over!) for days as he learned their material. And, in both of these cases, I continued to listen to them over and over even after Grant had moved on to learn other songs…

Chris Pickering cd release at the 5 Spot. September 2012.

Chris Pickering is from Brisbane, Australia and has been in Nashville for a few years. We first saw him a couple years ago. He has some amazing power pop songs, is a talented guitar player, an exceptional song writer and always has a strong, talented band. His new EP, Corners, is more folk oriented, sort of, but as I mentioned it really defies the genre titles and should just be filed under, “really good!” It is a comforting album, one I can (and have) listened to over and over again and again. It’s the sort of music that makes me want to hop in my car and turn it up loud and go for a long road trip. Chris is a hard working musician so get out there and listen to his music! You won’t be disappointed. You can find out more fun facts on him and listen to one of my new favorite songs, Howl, here.

Also new this last week was Little Bandit‘s new EP. Little Bandit is made up of some talented young musicians but is the creation of one Alex Caress. This guy has it going on. His songs are very well written and so fun. He plays piano- which I don’t even really generally find myself drawn to but he is so talented that it doesn’t matter what he is playing, he is great. Again, I cannot find a way to define the type of music but “really good” again seems to be appropriate. And for the EP release party, there were 18 people on that tiny little 5 Spot stage- horns, strings, six or seven back-up singers, the band… Powerful! I was caught in awe, without my camera. You can hear all the songs here. But, please go see both Little Bandit and Chris Pickering live whenever possible. And while you’re there, you can buy lots of their merch to give away to all your friends. Thanks.

And, I’ll end this post with breakfast. Kathy Lindenmayer, one of my favorite people in the whole world, eats this next treat for breakfast all the time. Every time we visit, I am reminded how good it is. After our last visit, I continued to enjoy this often- Avocado Toast! Just put avocado slices on your favorite piece of toast. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of lemon juice. Yum! Delicious and nutritious! Enjoy.

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One thought on “Three Vegetarian Dishes & Two New Album Releases!

  1. First of all, I totally agree with you about this being a great time of year. I’ve recently started telling people that I think the window between the last week of September and the first week of October might be my favorite two week stretch of the year.

    I also wanted to say something about that avocado toast in the final picture of this post. That really threw me for a loop. At first glance before reading what it was I suspected it was avocado on top of grilled salmon – guess I was pretty wrong.

    I’m a big avocado person though and think it really improves so many dishes. I think it especially goes well with warm crisp meals because it has such a nice contract with the smooth cool taste of the avocados.

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