Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First day - potatoes and feta au gratin with okra

Today I picked up my first "basket" of veggies - yay!!  Here's what I got:
a bag of arugula
3 red potatoes
2 eggplants
2 onions
2 heads of garlic
a bag of sweet basil
4 anaheim chilies (mild)
a bunch of green black-eyed peas
and a big bag of okra

Since I'm eating all of the veggies by myself, I did a half share, which is really more like a 2/3 share.  So if you were to do a full share (or family sized), expect to get at least 50% more than this.

After staring at this lovely bunch of fresh veggies, I realized I needed to get moving on what to make for dinner tonight.  I did not have any meat in the fridge, and I didn't feel like heading back out to the grocery store, so I wanted to make sure I got some protein.  Good news!  Potatoes are full of nutrition, including protein!  Cheese is another good source of protein, and also happens to be one of my favorite foods, and I had a container of feta in the fridge.  So I got on IM with Nate (he's in China on business) to get some input from him on what I could make.  His suggestion - potatoes au gratin with feta, and add some okra into the sauce.  Yum!  I googled potatoes au gratin with feta and read a few ideas, then got to work in the kitchen.

If you've ever made potatoes au gratin, you know it can take quite awhile to cook.  Since I was getting started a bit late, I "cheated" by boiling the potatoes for a few minutes to start the cooking.  I think this is called par-boiling.  Be careful not to boil them for too long, you aren't making mashed potatoes!  Meanwhile, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and made the sauce.  I melted some butter in a saucepan, then sauted some onions and garlic until the onions were soft.  I wanted to add some herbs, so I looked in the fridge and found some fresh cilantro - hmmm ok, I tried that.  I also added some dried thyme and basil... I definitely want to plant an herb garden so I have more fresh herbs!  Then I poured in some milk (about a cup?) and turned the heat up a bit, and added some sliced okra, 2 pieces.  Once it started boiling, I simmered it for a bit, probably about 10 minutes, stirring quite often, while it thickened up.  While it was thickening, I sliced the potatoes.  The key here is to make thin slices - next time I'll slice them thinner!  Once the sauce was thick, I added salt and pepper and then stirred in some feta cheese.  I don't know how much, it was whatever looked good!

I used a square glass baking dish and sprayed it pretty well with Pam.  Then I started with a layer of the sauce, then potatoes, then sauce, potatoes and finally sauce.  The potatoes should be in a single layer.  I definitely did not make enough sauce!  But I wasn't about to go back and make more so I went with it.  I added a bunch more feta on top, especially on the potatoes that did not get covered with the sauce, and covered the whole thing with fresh cracked pepper.

It cooked for about 35 minutes, making the house smell amazing (is there anything better than the smell of roasted garlic and melted cheese??) and came out looking pretty good!
It tasted great too!  The okra really added to it and was soooo yummy!  While this was cooking, I was getting pretty hungry, so I made a quick salad - green leaf lettuce I had in the fridge, arugula, a couple basil leaves, chopped tomatoes and sliced almonds with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  I've had arugula in bagged salads quite a bit, but I wasn't prepared for the difference in this fresh arugula!  It had so much more taste! 

I was very satisfied after this whole meal - success!

So Day 1 is complete.  If you have any suggestions of what I can make with the remaining items I got this week, please share!  I'm excited to try the eggplant, I've never cooked that before.  And a little nervous about the anaheim chilies, but I am hoping they are truly mild as they are labeled.

Thanks for reading, and happy eating!

1 comment:

  1. Hey! It sounds like your first cooking adventure went really well. There a re whole bunch of things you can do with eggplant. One really quick one is to slice the eggplant and stick it on a covered (so there are fewer dishes) cookies sheet. Drizzle a smidge of olive oil and some salt and pepper over them. I add the eggplant slices to a burger bun and they are my own little veggie burger. You can also put on your pasta... eggplant parm. Good luck and I can not wait to hear what you come up with!