Sunday, January 29, 2012
Mini-meal in the oven
It's like a 7-year-old's dream! But since unfortunately I don't have any 7-year-old girlfriends to ask over for supper, I use them myself.
Another sometimes problematic aspect of cooking for one is the use of the oven. Putting a single 1-cup casserole dish into the middle of a great big oven all by itself not only looks utterly pathetic but is a colossal waste of energy, so when I use the oven, I tend to multi-task.
For instance, my lunches these days consist of a grain salad with beans, the dressing of the day, usually a few cooked beets and a bit of spaghetti squash, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, and whatever other vegetables I can cram into a container. I love this salad, but have to say that the beets and spaghetti squash just make it. For some reason, they're magic. So every week I bake a spaghetti squash and roast beets (just peel and chop the beets, put them into a ceramic container with a lid, and bake them at 350F for 40 minutes or so to get full flavour, no added calories from oil, and just generally maximize your beet-y goodness). The point is, all this takes up about half my oven space. So half of it remains in a state of empty, echoing potentiality.
This is where all those little dishes really shine!
Remember the super-easy, super-fast filo pie? You can make this really big, medium-sized, or really little. Here it is in a 1-cup container:
I'm using fairly old scraps of filo that I've been keeping in the fridge and that have begun to stick together a bit. One of the joys of this recipe is that you just need to line the bottom, the sides, and the top, with 4-6 layers of filo, and it doesn't matter if it's messy. The filling is chopped onions, garlic, mushrooms, and eggplant, sauteed with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, adding lots of minced parsley at the end, and all mixed with some of the Vegan Brunch omelet mix from the fridge. That would be 1/4 of an onion, one garlic clove, 4 mushrooms, 1/4 medium-sized eggplant, and 1/2 cup minced parsley. Fold over the top and brush with olive oil:
And cook it at anywhere from 350-375F for about 25 minutes. Generally I start with a piece of tinfoil laid lightly on top to prevent the filo from burning, then take it off about 5 minutes before the dish is done:
...and, if there's time, let it cool to room temperature before eating.
Also in the oven I made a dish inspired by one of Robin Robertson's recipes in Vegan Planet. Cut up some winter squash (this is butternut) in large pieces to cover the bottom of a casserole dish in a single layer. Splash with brandy, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with chopped onions, a dash of brown sugar, and salt and pepper:
Cover tightly, and cook until the squash is tender and beginning to brown. Meanwhile, assemble a mixture of chopped green apple, more brown sugar, a little olive oil, and some finely-chopped peanuts:
Spoon this mixture over the top of the half-baked casserole:
...and continue to bake, uncovered or mostly uncovered, until the apples are soft and the whole is nicely browned:
With roasted tomatoes, and some collards and carrots drizzled with balsamic reduction, a lovely feast for one:
...and a lot of little dishes to wash, true, but I don't do this every day and once in a while it's so worth it!