My New Year’s Resolution (Week 1)
New Year’s resolutions are tough. For most of the things that I’d like to improve or accomplish, success or failure is subjective. I’d like to be less anxious, more generous, only speak positively; to become more involved in my community and figure out what I want to be when I grow up; read more of substance and less of Facebook. But these are hard to measure and quite frankly I should probably be doing them anyways.
I don’t actually remember any of my own past resolutions, but I’ve seen some that have run the gamut. Courtney’s resolution one year was to do everything in moderation. I’m not sure how, but I’m pretty sure the resolution breaks itself. Also, it’s totally impossible to objectively measure. We had a debate or two about the definition of moderation (is three beers moderate? five if they are on happy hour special?). Finally Courtney agreed that he’d broken his resolution, probably after eating a Willy’s burrito or playing 7 straight hours of Nazi Zombies. Then there was the New Years Eve that my Dad decided around 11:47 that his resolution was to quit smoking and had quite the rush to finish his pack of cigarettes telling me ‘you may want to leave the room if I start coughing.’ He definitely broke Courtney’s resolution, but at least his was an all-or-nothing objective goal.
As I mentioned previously, I got a bit of a head start on my resolution this year: to make at least one new recipe a week. Like with restaurants, I have a tendency to make my same ‘go-to’ favorites. Different types of pasta with a new pre-made sauce won’t count. My goal is to really branch out to entirely new cuisine (Chana Masala, General Tao Chicken, Nasi Goreng, Bibimbap) and try some very unique twists on old favorites. I expect that Tastespotting.com will be my saving grace.
Then there is part 2. In January, I am giving up all meat (fish included!). No, this isn’t an effort to atone for the bacon jam. I need an extra nudge to experiment with the many vegetarian options on the table. Oh, and to prove to Courtney that vegetables can be delicious. (Again, TGF tastespotting).
I started right off with recipe #1: Mexican Tortilla Lasagna. This dish is rich in fresh veggies. It was successful because a) it was quite tasty and b) Courtney ate mushrooms, and enjoyed them. It takes about two hours, so make it when you have some time.
For the Red Pepper Sauce:
- 200 gr roasted red peppers, drained
- 6 0z can tomato paste
- 4 tsp adoba sauce (from Chipotle Peppers in Adoba sauce)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin (whoops, I forgot this!)
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- Blend the drained peppers, tomato puree, chipotle sauce, sugar, cumin & Worcestershire sauce in a food processor or blender until smooth.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onions and a pinch of salt for 4-5 minutes until softened, then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to the processor with the red pepper sauce and blend again. Season with salt & black pepper and taste.
- Pour this back into the pan and cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes until reduced slightly and thickened. Add a few splashes of stock or water to loosen to a thick creamy sauce. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
For the Lasagna:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 500 gr mixed mushrooms, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 zucchini, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 small egg plant thinly sliced lengthways
- 6 flour tortillas
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 150 gram soft goats cheese
- 150 gr grated cheddar
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add in the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes until browning. Reduce the heat, season with salt & black pepper, thyme & oregano. Cook for a minute then cover with lid. Cook for another 2 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.
- Push the mushrooms to one side of the pan, add another tbsp olive oil to the other side and fry the chopped garlic in the oil for 1 or 2 minutes until starting to color. Them mix the garlic and mushrooms together, cook for a minute then set aside.
- Heat a griddle pan over a high heat. Brush all the veg on both sides with olive oil, then cook for 1-2 minutes per side in batches until all the veg is cooked. Season with salt & black pepper.
- Place two tortillas, overlapping slightly in the bottom of a lasagna dish. Spread over 1/3 of the red pepper sauce then scatter over a third of the vegetables. Spread over 1/3 of the greek yogurt then crumble over a third of the goats cheese. Repeat this in layers, finishing with a final layer of tortillas and spread with the red sauce and shredded cheddar cheese.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is browned & bubbling.