Healthy Vegetable Baked in Cheese and Sauce

One of my New Years resolutions was to find a way to cook more vegetarian entrees. I have no problem whipping up a side of spinach and garlic or broccoli and garlic or any freaking vegetable and garlic, but I do know that that dish usually gets to sit next to a bowl of tortellini or a breast of chicken or a hunk of eggplant parmesan, or what I like to call healthy vegetable baked in cheese and sauce. I’m not looking to eat less meat – in fact, I don’t eat a lot of meat, and a part of me might resolve to try more meat next year – but this year, I’d like to learn to appreciate the vegetarian entrée.

My mom cooks simply – oil and garlic, vegetable, done. (This is where I get my repertoire of side dishes from.) My dad simply likes to cook. He will wake up early to fish so that blue fish can be for dinner. Both can be found at the kitchen counter on a weeknight noshing on cauliflower and couscous. They make it a meal. Living with them is a guaranteed diet. When Michael and I broke up for a good 6 months, I went to live at home, and aside from saving money, I got to live like a healthy person. Punching the air and crying on the treadmill secretly helped with that, but eating cauliflower and couscous before 8pm every night was such a nice little reminder that damn, do we overeat.

I’m proud of my vegetarian entrée for dinner tonight, so listen up!


2 cans of Sahadi chickpeas got rinsed and drained while I chopped up some leeks (a vegetable I never cook with… I made Michael google which part of it to chop… it’s not the part you’d expect, I’ll leave it at that), minced some garlic, grabbed a leftover zucchini from the fridge (need to do this more often… use what it’s in the fridge…), and half a red onion. Enough olive oil to coat the pan, and then I spilled the beans (in). I stirred them around until they got all golden and smoky. (I was careful not to burn my pan… I am famous for this… so I would carefully add a splash more of olive oil…). I added my leeks, all chopped up and reminding me of scallions. Stirred those around for a while, forgot that I’d also chopped up the zucchini, so threw that in as well. The pan was looking good, heartier than I’d expected, and I liked seeing food that was all similar in size. I cooked this for about 7 minutes and right before I took it off the heat for a cool-down, I shook the garlic in and zested a lemon. I once read somewhere that a squeeze of lemon or the zest of a lemon should always be the final, secret touch at the end of your recipe. It livens up the flavor of all your ingredients. I don’t have a source for this info but I believe it, ok? While my vegetarian entrée was cooling, I took a 1/3 cup of plain Greek yogurt and mixed a teaspoon and a half of curry powder into it, plus a pinch of salt. Woah! Who does this?! Not me. This was like the cheese and sauce to my dish. It came out great. Michael ate the entire pan, like he is known to do.

Day 3 of 2013, I owned you. 3 miles on the old treadmill and now this?! I am awesome.