I haven't had much time for writing lately, as some of you have have noticed. What with a toddler and a tiddler and no daycare, the days just seem to fly by before I get a chance to pull out the camera and take a shot or write it up. One of the problems is that we fell into the (perhaps bad) habit of feeding the toddler separately from the adults. When the Critic was coming home from work at nine p.m. most nights, this was inevitable. But now that he's around more, I'm going to shift our dinner hour a bit earlier and the toddler's a bit later so that we can all eat together. This will mean more time for me (yay!) and hopefully more child-friendly and easy recipes for the blog. In the meantime, I thought I'd share couple of easy tasty vegetable sauces I came up with recently: Sesame and Soy for a warm broccoli salad, and a roast garlic dressing for grilled summer vegetables.
Warm Broccoli Salad
This was my attempt to get the Critic to eat his greens. It didn't work, but I still thought it was tasty. Next time I a bit of garlic and ginger to see if that piques his interest better!
Steam one head of broccoli, washed and cut in florets. In a medium bowl, stir two tablespoons soy sauce with one tablespoon of sesame oil, one tablespoon of hot pepper oil and two teaspoons of rice wine vinegar. When the broccoli is tender, toss it in the sauce and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
Grilled summer vegetables salad with roasted garlic dressing
I made this last night for Barrett and his lovely wife, the Redhead, who are visiting us in Paris. (YAY!) Having a couple of vegetarians visit makes for a culinary challenge when you have a very meat eating spouse. With a creamy porcini risotto, this got rave reviews from everyone. The vegetable quantitities were just what I happened to have on hand and didn't forget to use - adapt the quantities to your own taste.
1 1/2 zucchini (about a pound)
1/2 red onion
For the sauce:
garlic, one clove reserved
a few sprigs of thyme
2 Tbs lemon juice
4-6 Tbs olive oil
a little butter
To roast the garlic, slice off the top of the head just far enough down so that most of the cloves of garlic are exposed. Place the head on a sheet of tin foil and dot with a pat of butter, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and top with a sprig of thyme. You will only need two cloves of garlic for the sauce, but the rest of the head is lovely squeezed onto a slice of buttered bread and sprinkled with a bit of sea salt. (I wish I had roasted two, in fact, as it was a great appetizer and you can store the leftovers in the fridge for a few days.) Pull up the sides of the tin foil and crumple closed, leaving a bit of space above the head of garlic. Bake in a medium oven (340F/170C) for an hour roughly - you will smell when it's done and the cloves will be soft.
In the meantime, wash and slice the eggplant and zucchini in thick rounds. Leave the half onion intact. Crush one small clove of garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil and brush this on the vegetables. Grill them on a barbecue until soft and tender. As they cool, prepare the dressing in the bottom of a big salad bowl: squeeze two plump cloves of garlic into the bowl and sprinkle them generously with salt. With the back of a small spoon, mash the cloves to a paste. Using the spoon or a small whisk, beat in the lemon juice and a generous pinch of pepper. Slowly add the olive oil, beating all the while to create an emulsion. Taste it for salt and pepper - I found it needed quite a lot of both to bring out the garlic flavour properly. Finally, cut the zucchini and eggplant in bite-sized pieces, slice the tomatoes in wedges and the onions in strips. Toss them in the bowl with the dressing and serve warm.
Variations: you could add basil or thyme (but not both) if you want to give it a herbal feel. I originally intended to use grilled peppers, but forgot them in the fridge in the end. I don't think I would have included the tomatoes if the peppers were in the salad, though, as I find their flavours tend to clash a bit.
However, I think the original recipe as it stands above was absolutely delicious. The Critic, who is no fan of aubergine or courgettes, ate a large portion and gave it a big thumbs up.