Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rustic Layered Vegetable Stacks

You know what I love most about about fancy restaurants?  Well, besides the food.  It's the descriptions on the menus.  You know of what I speak (I'm already quoting Lord of the Rings...heaven help us).  Back to the menus.  Maybe it's because I love words so much and think that writing menu descriptions would be a fabulous job--I mean, how fun to come up with those descriptions and use weird, trendy punctuation.  It got me thinking, why can't we do that with the meals we cook at home?  What's to stop us from describing our daily nourishment in ravishing detail full of vip and vim?

I would describe these Rustic Layered Vegetable Stacks thusly:

Sweet potato rounds.  Grilled zucchini.  Tomatoes 
{insert heirloom tomatoes here if they had been on sale this week}  
Fresh basil & spicy lemon cashew crumble.

Doesn't that sound appetizing?  Let's make these little beauties.  A dish like this falls under what I have deemed "FancyPants Foods."  They look oh-so-pretty and would knock the socks off of your dinner guests if they happened to be wearing socks.  But not only is this dish  lovely to look at and tasty to boot but it's healthy!  Chock full of veggie goodness and very low in fat.  Did I mention also soooo easy to make?

We start with our cast of characters.

Look at all  that color.  We are eating the rainbow, folks!

Yams are put on the stove to simmer for a bit.

Zucchini is sliced and dusted with salt, fresh ground black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Yes, I am smashing my zucchini with my yam pan.  Improvise baby.  We want those lovely grill marks from our grill pan.  If you don't own a grill pan, you can easily substitute a regular skillet pan here for the zucchini.  But put a grill pan on your wish list won't you pretty please?

That's what we are looking for.  Rustic grill marks.

Healthy raw cashews are ground into a powdery crumble with more red pepper flakes, lemon zest and nutritional yeast for added nuttiness.  We're simulating Parmesan cheese here and it works beautifully!

These stacks are sprinkled with lemon zest.  Aren't they so pretty?

Another option is to set the stacks in a luscious pool of marinara sauce.

Yum, yum, yum!

Here's the recipe.  Actually, first a disclaimer.  Those of you who have seen me cook know I am not a recipe girl.  The goal of this blog is to help others free themselves from recipes and improvise and get comfy in the kitchen.  But, it's a process.  So here goes with a recipe!

Rustic Layered Vegetable Stacks
*Serves 3-4 (or 1-2 depending how hungry you are!)
*Prep time:  30 minutes tops
*Kitchen gear required:  saute pan, grill pan (or 2nd saute pan/skillet), largish knife, cutting board, saucepan if serving with marinara, food processor

1 medium-sized yam or sweet potato, peeled and sliced (aim for 1/2-3/4 inch slices)
1-2 zucchini, sliced diagonally
2 tomatoes, sliced
10-15 basil leaves, washed and dried
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
pinch of red pepper flakes
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste (easy on the salt if you are going to use marinara sauce)

Ready, set go!
1.  Peel and slice the yam/sweet potato.  Plop yams in skillet with 1/2 inch of water.  Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 10-15 min. or until tender.  Keep an eye on these as they easily burn once the water is gone!
2.  Slice the zucchini, sprinkle with salt (easy there tiger) and pepper and red pepper flakes.
3.  Throw zucchini on pre-heated grill pan or saute pan.  You can use a bit of olive oil mist to help with sticking.  Press zucchini down with yam pan or other less-tacky approach of your choosing (you could press down with a spatula, etc. but I don't like to stand still and do things like that) to achieve lovely grill marks.
5.  Slice tomatoes and wash basil, set aside.
6.  Pulverize cashews in food processor (I used my Cuisinart mini prep).  Don't over-process or you will end up with cashew butter--delicious in its own rite but not what we want for the veggie stacks.
7.  Add nutritional yeast, half the lemon zest and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes to the cashews and blend a bit more.  Set aside.
8.  Heat marinara sauce if using.
9.  Let's stack!  I'm not going to tell you how to do this...just stack!  Let yourself go and you choose the order...yam/tomato/zucchini/basil, etc.  Sprinkle with cashew crumbs and additional lemon zest or serve with marinara sauce if desired.  The amount of veggies you cook will determine the number of stacks.
10.  Proceed to gobble these up!


1 comment:

  1. so cute! ready to be your humble indentured servant!