Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thinking outside the salad bowl

This summer of Giada De Lairentiis has been quite insightful so far. I'd even have to say that she is making me re-revaluate the potential of bake-ability  of everything in my frig and in my pantry. All this over one dish. A dish that, of all things, cooks lettuce.

Now, I know that spinach is tasty cooked, as is Kale and every other dark leafy green like it, but for some reason, my American upbringing never allowed my brain the luxury of contemplating lettuce in anything but a bowl with dressing and sliced raw veggies. Maybe croutons if I'm feeling feisty.

No more. I have seen the light and it came shining from a Giada Cookbook.

Penne with Treviso and Goat Cheese

I'm not going to give the full recipe now as it can be found here. What I will give is my own substitutions. I vegetarianized this mostly vegetarian meal by replacing the meat stock with veggie broth. I could not find treviso in Cleveland (go figure), so I decided on the equally acceptable raddicchio option. Of course, I didn't find a head of raddicchio by its lonesome, only in a bag mixed with romaine. I decided: what the heck? So my own meal pictured is really Penne with Raddicchio-Romaine and Goat Cheese.

I will also warn you that when it comes time to add the cheese, do so very carefully and exactly as she instructs or you might end up pulling apart mounds of molded together stringy melted cheese to salvage your dinner. And we don't want that do we?

Other than the cheese fiasco, this meal went off without a hitch (though this farming cliche is vaguely lost on my suburban mindset). My son was at his fathers the week before we made this and it was his welcome home dinner. He made quite a fuss, even though we assured him that he quite likes lettuce. Then he tasted it, and we had no more complaints. It's delicious. I'm not sure I've ever before tried balsamic vinegar in any form that wasn't sold in a salad dressing bottle with fruit mixed in. I have now, and there's no going back. Balsamic vinegar is heaven in a bottle. It's worth its weight in gold... which is probably why it's so darn expensive at the supermarket.

Cooked lettuce, I might add, is divine.

In other news, the garden has begun whipping out veggies in mass quantities. Look, we even have our first eggplant of the season! There's two more Japanese eggplanis on the bush, growing nicely, and one half-grown globe eggplant. Things have been cooking up in my kitchen, to say the least.

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