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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Easy Single-Dish Dinners

The University District Farmers Market has been bustling with activity.  Each time I visit, I plan on getting to the market when it opens at 9. Ultimately, I fall a little short of my goal and arrive no earlier than 9:30. Parking can be interesting in Seattle at any time of day, so I inevitably park a few blocks away and carry enough produce to last me several days, but not enough to leave me overburdened and stumbling along the sidewalks. This week, I fell a little short of the latter and ended up looking like a pack mule.

This week's selections included beets, mustard greens, scallions, kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi, peaches, and yellow squash. There are always many organic farmers in attendance and most of them will accept credit cards now, which is great for those of us who don't like carrying much cash. There are also a number of farmers with organic, antibiotic free, grass fed meats.  It takes me a little longer to shop for those items because I'm not used to the pricing or cuts.

I love shopping at the farmers market because it lets me do a little meal planning in my mind as I wander through the stalls. There's nothing like the freshest produce; I never go to the market with a set list of items with the expectation that I will just select what looks to be at the peak of its season. We have had an unusually pleasant summer, and standing in front of a stove-top is something I have been avoiding, so I look for vegetables that are good fresh or roasted.

My husband and I both work full time, so I try to fix meals that take very little prep time. Lately, I've been feeling lazy, so I've been making as many one-dish meals as possible.  They are very simple and prep time only entails the amount of time it takes to peel and chop the vegetables.

The following are some vegetable combinations we have enjoyed.  All are cooked at 375 degrees F for about 45 minutes.  We are both eating meat now, so I'll put pork, beef, or chicken over the top of the vegetables and cover the dish with aluminum foil.  Some time may need to be added for the meat - go by whether the vegetables are fork tender and the meat is at temperature.

Roasted Veggies 1
4 beets, peeled and chopped into 1/2" to 1" cubes
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1" segments
1/2 an onion, rough chopped
1 medium zucchini, halved and chopped
2 Tb parsley, minced
1-2 Tb apple cider vinegar
2 Tb olive oil - optional
salt and pepper to taste

Ideally, the vegetables (except onion and parsley) should be cut to about the same size for even cooking.  These vegetables are robust and handle red meats well. If the dish is combined with a meat that isn't lean, I don't find the olive oil to be necessary. Substituting apple cider vinegar with balsamic vinegar is especially tasty with pork.

Roasted Veggies 2
1/2 a medium head of cabbage, sliced
2 peeled zucchini, halved and sliced into 1/2" lengths
 1 onion, sliced
3 Tb cilantro, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tb olive oil
salt to taste

This dish pairs well with lean proteins like chicken and fish. If I cook fish, it is baked in a separate dish to reduce the risk of bones getting lost in the vegetables.

Roasted Veggies 3
1/2 cauliflower head, 1" pieces
2 carrots, 1/2" lengths
2-3 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 cup peas, thawed if frozen
1/2 onion, rough chopped
2 Tb cilantro
1 T cumin
1 t coriander
1 t mustard seeds
1/2 t turmeric
1/4 t cayenne
1 T vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

I personally don't eat potatoes or cayenne because they are not good for people with autoimmune/inflammatory issues.  Usually I cook this meal in a frying pan, but it works roasted - just be sure to toss all of the ingredients evenly.  This is a great vegetarian dish, especially if you want to add some chickpeas and cook some quinoa on the side.  It also combines well with lamb dusted with salt, pepper, cumin, and a little cinnamon.

Today's Farmers Market Inspired Meals
Sliced peach with hemp milk
Fruit smoothie with fresh berries

Home-made guacamole
Peeled and sliced cucumbers, cauliflower, and jicama


Roasted beets, carrots, onion, and yellow squash with a hint of vinegar, salt, and pepper
Mustard greens sauteed with onions, lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt
Fresh green salad
Lamb shoulder chops with cumin, salt, and pepper

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