Mediterranean Vegetables: Healthy Side Dish Recipe

Mediterranean Vegetables: Healthy Side Dish Recipe Recipe

This Mediterranean vegetable medley is not only a healthy side dish, it's also packed with flavor. I mixed red bell pepper, sunburst squashes, crimini mushrooms, green olives and garlic, along with baby eggplants, which fit perfectly in this particular dish. The skin is tender, not bitter and the seeds are very small. I also melted goat cheese at the end to bind all the flavors together. We bought way too many fresh loaves of French bread from the bakery aisle at Safeway, so I took one of the loaves and cut it into small croutons and used them to soak up the juices from the vegetables.

For a non-vegetarian version, I would substitute grilled chunks of chicken for the croutons and serve it on a bed of rice.

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, cut into quarters
2 shallots, sliced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
8 baby eggplants
2 red bell peppers
1 zucchini, stemmed and chopped
4 sunburst squashes, stemmed and chopped
8 crimini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
3 cups 1-day-old bread, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
6 green olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (or regular salt)
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons curly parsley leaves, chopped


Directions

Prepping the baby eggplants:

Trim the eggplants. Cut them in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-thick slices. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (to collect the excess moisture). Place the eggplants slices on the rack. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and let sit for about 20 minutes. Pat dry using paper towels.

For the roasted bell peppers: Remove the stems from the peppers. Wash and pat them dry. Brush with oil. Place a grill on your stove and char all the skin of the pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes until you can handle them without discomfort. Clean the peppers using a knife; the skin will come right off. Seed them and cut into thin strips.

Assembly time:

Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Add the garlic and cook until golden. Transfer to a platter. Add the shallots and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the shallots from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown. Transfer to a platter.

Add more oil if necessary. Add the eggplant first, cook for about 5 minutes until darkened. Transfer to a platter. Once they're cool enough to handle, cut into small pieces.

Add more oil, then add the zucchini and squashes to the pan. Cook over medium heat until nicely seared and softened (about 4 minutes).

In the same pan, add more oil (if necessary). Add the crimini mushrooms. Cook until caramelized. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Return the shallots, bread, red bell pepper, eggplants (with their juices) and garlic into the pan. Toss well. Season with coarse sea salt (or regular salt) and pepper.

Lower the heat to low and add the crumbled goat cheese. Stir well until melted. Add oregano, dried basil, the reserved garlic, shallots and green olives. Cover and let the flavors blend, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice. Turn off the heat. Add the chopped curly parsley. Toss well. Check seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Cover and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bon appétit!


Tips

To keep the dish healthy, I didn't add a lot of goat cheese. You could omit it for a vegan diet.

You can mix and match any other vegetables you have on hand. You could add other vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli rabe, sugar snap peas, carrots, or marinated artichoke hearts and melt any other kind of cheese.

Sometimes, if I want to be serve a light but complete meal, I'll crack a few eggs on top of the veggies, cover and wait until the eggs are cooked (sunny side up). Children love it!

 

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on April 15, 2011.


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