Thursday night, after meeting up with Donna for a chat and to plan our August trip to the Healthy Living Summit together (we were both relieved that we got along so well…otherwise it would be a long 9 hours to Philly), I met up with my mom and sister for a lovely ladies’ night out. We met at Devlin’s, a lovely “country bistro” (that’s what the website says) for dinner and then my mom surprised us by treating my sister and I each to a pedicure after dinner for an end-of-the-year treat (we’re both teachers) – thanks mom!
Instead of bread waiting for us, there were chips and black bean and corn salsa on the table. I nibbled on a couple, but it wasn’t anything fantastic, so I saved myself for the main meal. My mom ordered a Caesar salad, and was kind of enough to share a little bit with my sister and I (okay, so if you count the bacon bits, it’s not technically a vegetarian meal )…we all LOVE restaurant Caesar salad.
I was trying to go for the “healthier” option on the menu, so I ordered the vegetarian roasted tomato ragout with polenta for my entree. The polenta was nice and creamy, and I liked the flavour of the ragout, but it was REALLY oily (I tried to ignore this). It was pretty good, but I fell like I could have made an equally tasty and less oily version at home. Shoulda gone with what I craved and got something else – oh well, live and learn.
Dessert was 80/20 in a BIG way! Caramel peanut cheesecake anyone? And, except for the two bites my sister had, I ate that WHOLE thing! …and had a bite or two of my mom’s rhubarb crisp too. I definitely did not need that whole dessert, but since I didn’t order an appetizer or eat a huge entree, I didn’t feel TOO horrible. The problem was that I munched on a few things when I got home (that whole Thursday night mentality). It wasn’t absolutely horrible, but more than I needed. What can I say? I’m a work in progress!
Last night’s vegetarian effort was homemade, and, not to brag, but at least for the entree part, I enjoyed it MORE than the restaurant ragout (I haven’t quite figured out how to make a healthy cheesecake that tastes that decadent…any suggestions? ).
Since it was Friday, that meant PIZZA! Specifically, a balsamic wild mushroom pizza with goat cheese. My sides were roasted asparagus (roast at 450 for 20 to 30 minutes with PAM, salt and pepper, add balsamic at the last minute) and a simply amazing tomato and roasted red pepper soup with fresh basil. Mmmmm….the perfect spring supper celebrating seasonal veggies and herbs. I made the pizza and soup recipes sort of “in tandem” (read on and you’ll see what I mean, so I’m going to write those recipes up simultaneously.
If you’ve read HHH for any length of time, you can already guess what I did for my pizza crust. For the base of my pizza topping (and soup), I sautéed half of a sweet Vidalia onion in one teaspoon of olive oil on medium-high heat until it just started to brown, reduced heat and cooked a bit more, then I added two cloves of chopped garlic. After cooking for a few minutes, I removed half of the onions to use later for the soup. For the pizza, I added chopped creminis, shitakes and one half of a GIANT portabello mushroom (you could use any combo of mushrooms you have). I turned the heat back up to medium-high, then cooked the mushrooms until starting to brown and they were nice and juicy, then added chopped fresh sage from my garden (fresh sage and mushrooms are simply DIVINE together…try it!) and splashed in some balsamic. I let it all cook together until the liquid evaporated, seasoning with salt and pepper.
For the sauce, I used a new Costco find (I made a trip on Monday) that is sure to become a favourite ingredient: mashed San Marzano tomatoes. It’s just tomatoes and basil, but it’s all pureed, so it’s the ideal base for sauces and soups – you can just add your desired seasonings and meat/veggies. So flavourful, but healthier than pre-made sauces with lots of additives. My pizza sauce was creamy – I combined one wedge of Laughing Cow light with a bit of this stuff, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a touch of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
I spread the sauce over my crust, topped with the mushroom mixture, a few spinach leaves for added colour/nutrition, and crumbled goat cheese (just LOVE goat cheese and mushrooms…can’t get over it). I baked at 450 until the cheese had melted, only about 5 or 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, my soup was going on. In a small saucepan, I combined the reserved onion/garlic mixture, about 3/4 cup of the tomato puree, a bit of water (tip: it was the bottom of the jar and I didn’t want any of the puree to go to waste, so I rinsed out the jar with water and poured straight into the pot to get all the goodness) and salt and pepper, I brought to a simmer over medium heat. I added one roasted red pepper, 2 wedges of Laughing Cow (can’t say enough how great this stuff is for creamy soups), and right at the end (remember, add late for maximum flavour), a handful of fresh basil. I pureed with my immersion blender (really, you NEED one) and topped it off with a bit more fresh basil.
After meals like this, I think it wouldn’t be heard to be vegetarian (but then I think about it and realize I’d never last). This meal was also perfect, as it was nice and light, which I needed after Thursday night’s splurge, and a few delicious samples I consumed while shopping at the market and grocery store yesterday afternoon.
For dessert, I was excited to try some of the Chapman’s Yogurt Plus: Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble frozen yogurt I bought, topped with some of the new batch of stewed rhubarb I made and fresh strawberries. It was ok, but honestly, I wouldn’t have guessed there was rhubarb in there if I couldn’t taste it. It just tasted like ordinary strawberry fro yo to me (it was no soft serve sundae, that’s for sure). I do like Yogurt Plus though: it’s packed with fibre and probiotics, so can’t go wrong there, right?
Happy weekend! I’m hoping the weather forecast is wrong and we can enjoy some sunshine.
Do you eat vegetarian very often, or are you a carnivore to the core? (I am on a rhyming role today ).