Friday, 4 November 2011

Doing the Vegetarian Twist!

Verdure Miste al Forno con Ricotta & Sale Aromatizzato
Mixed Roasted Vegetables with Ricotta Cheese + Herb-Infused Salt
I never was much of a dancer- but this twisty, twirly dish should make up for all the dances you have missed with me! I may not be much shakes on a dancef loor, but I am quite a mover in the kitchen! And that's good enough for me!

This little creation is yet another recipe that I put together to use of some last bits and pieces. It is Friday night and tomorrow is market day- so I needed to make way for the new and use up the old veggies first!

I had a green and a yellow pepper, a king oyster mushroom, an eggplant and a couple of tomatoes- as well as the last scoop of fresh ricotta- so just like the big stores do when they get to the end of the season- I decided that "everything must go!"

There isn't so much a recipe here, as a method- and a very simple method at that. I started off by slicing the eggplant and the mushroom thinly and pre- cooking them, in a non-stick pan, with no added oil. My whole "shtick" with this one, is to have each vegetable tasting of its own flavor as strongly as possible. And you don't do that by overpowering the products own flavors with fats and oils. Once the vegetables become soft, we can remove them from the frying pan- I did the mushroom, eggplant and peppers this way. I seasoned them with a little of my "Salt of the Earth" and set them to one side to cool down.

Pre-cooking the vegetables makes them easier to shape like this of course- but even then it is not easy! You are going to have to wash your hands people! But on the bright side of things... licking your fingers will taste pretty good! I flavored the ricotta with some crushed garlic, a hint of lemon juice and zest and a drop of olive oil. I whipped it up a little with a fork and then spread a thin coat on each vegetable- not too much! Basically, you just want the vegetable slices stick together a little. Start at the outside edge of your baking dish and layer the vegetables, alternating as you go, from the outside in.

It is a little bit tricky, but keep pressing the vegetables back from the center and pack them as tightly as possible. You may find that the tomatoes squish and slide right back out- but don't fret too much about that- just press them back in as well as possible. You will find that the ricotta will start to squeeze out of the gaps between the vegetables, but just smooth it down as best you can. Once you are finished, it may look a little messier than in my picture and have a lot of cheese on the top covering everything- so I would recommend the wipe it off the surface of the red and green peppers at least, so that you can see their colors and also, so that they will get a little bit toasted around the edges!

Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper- or as I did, with a flavored salt mix. The herbs, citrus and spice flavors really go well with this! Pop it into a moderate oven for around 20-20 minutes, giving it a final blast under the broiler for the last 2-3 minutes, to get it lightly brown. And mind not to burn yourself when you rush to try it- it will be HOT! So this is a simple and modest dish- but a good way to use up odds and ends and yummy to boot! So I hope you enjoy it!

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