Pizza (with Vodka Sauce) and Grilled Vegetables (and Review of Plated)

[This is not a sponsored post. I wish it were, for reasons* that will become clear soon.]

I saw Plated’s presentation on Shark Tank (Rosebud and I love seeing the business ideas people come up with!). I found Plated’s web site and liked their page on Facebook. I am glad I did–they advertised getting four free meals (two menu selections, the minimum order size) and a trial membership (membership gets you a cheaper price on future orders).

For you non-vegetarians out there–the other menu items have almost made me reconsider that life choice.

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I probably could have rolled the dough thinner–it rises, but it was great as it was.

Our box arrived yesterday and I made the Pizza with Grilled Vegetables tonight. So good!

Ingredients Included in the Box
garlic
zucchini
yellow bell pepper
red onion
fresh basil
crushed red pepper
crushed tomatoes
heavy cream
flour (yes, in a little bag–enough for dusting the dough-rolling surface!)
pizza dough
shredded mozzarella
crumbled goat cheese

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Some Really Cool Things About This Dish
My house smelled great after tearing the fresh basil. The basil in the grocery store always looks wilted. I know I could be growing it in a planter or a pot, but I have been a bit busy surviving law school* lately.

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You know I love to cook. That said, do you know how much fun this was? It was almost like having a prep assistant, I would think. I minced the garlic (already peeled!) and sliced the vegetables. That was it. Everything else was in a bag I took out of the fridge and was already measured. That meant less time and also less clean-up (normally, I would have measured out the cream).

From Shark Tank, I learned that one of the premises behind Plated is that there is quite a bit of food waste in most home kitchens. For example, this recipe called for 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of heavy cream, mozzarella cheese, and goat cheese. Unlike if I were buying the groceries, I received exactly the correct amounts of those items in my box. If I had bought the groceries, I probably would have used up the garlic and mozzarella before it went bad. I am not sure about the goat cheese (I love it in recipes like this, but do not use it generally), and I definitely would have had to throw out the rest of the cream (I would not even use it up in coffee since I do not drink coffee). This was great!

As a relatively new vegetarian, I have been searching for new recipes to add variety back into my diet. This looks like it might be a fun way to try new types of recipes.

Things I Learned About Plated
1.  The box is insulated well and has re-usable ice packs in it. My daughter used it as a cooler for some leftover food she wanted to take with her this afternoon.
2.  We have been having heat in the 90s. No problem.
3.  The ingredients were very high quality. I was so impressed. As noted above, the basil was better than what I usually find in the grocery store. I could tell the mozzarella and goat cheese were high quality, too. Actually, everything was. The vegetables were beautiful and the pizza dough was good.
4.  They have excellent chat on the web site. See number 5 and 6, below. Shout out to “Sammy” for the excellent help.
5.  You can change the delivery date to see future menu options.
6.  They are opening a new fulfillment center for the east coast soon.

 

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My Favorite Juice

I have posted this juicing recipe before on my main blog, but I really love this juice, I want it on this site for easy reference, and this time I have photos.

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Shopping List/Recipe
4 carrots
1 stalk of celery
1 apple
1 cup red grapes
2″ slice pineapple
handful of spinach
slice of red bell pepper
1″ slice of cucumber

Juice with juicer.

Juicing is continuing to grow in popularity, and there are new popular brands of juicers available. I still use my original Champion juicer and love it.

Tips
If you are using a Champion juicer, I have found that a Pyrex 4-cup measuring cup works perfectly for collecting the juice. It fits under the juicer (if you tip it a little sliding it under or out from under the attachment) and, if you are sharing the juice, it has a handy pouring edge. Since I often do not share my juice, I drink it straight from the measuring cup.

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Notice that the photo I chose for the main photo is of the unjuiced ingredients. The juice looks downright nasty. In fact, I was afraid to taste it the first time I made it. It is, hands down, the best tasting thing I have ever tasted in my life. I think it even beats out chocolate. It is probably the apple, pineapple, and grapes. Whatever it is, the combination is amazing.

Also, I have tried making this juice and others in the morning and taking it to work or school with me in various types of containers. It never tastes as good, even though it is refrigerated in an air-tight container. I think it must start degrading very quickly. So, now, I only make it to drink immediately.

Enjoy.

Source
As noted on my original blog post, I really wish I knew whom to give credit for the recipe. Someone was kind enough to post it years ago, I think on a message board. Unfortunately, I can not remember her name.

Personal Update
1. I have tried a new recipe since I last posted. It was another recipe test in my quest for the perfect vegetarian lasagna and, from the recipe, should have been The One. It was good, but not quite what my taste buds wanted to preserve here. I think the ricotta cheese was a little overpowering in that one.
2.  I am in the throes of urgently looking for my first post-law school job. Why is it that peanut butter sandwiches are faster in preparation and cleanup than cooking or even juicing?
3.  This article from the ABA says that stress (and lack of exercise) may be killing law student brain cells. Yes, I think I can feel them dying off. The exercise and meditative practices the article suggests are important, but I am trying to help out on the nutrition side of things too. This juice is one of my chosen weapons.

 

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Savory Mushroom Gravy

In addition to my perfect vegetarian lasagna quest, I am also on a great vegetarian gravy quest. Last night, I tried Post Punk Kitchen’s version.

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Savory Mushroom Gravy served over mashed potatoes.

It was good! Next time, for my personal palate, I may cut down on the sage, just a bit.

Shopping list (ingredients that may not be on hand)
vegetable broth
yellow onion
garlic
mushrooms
nutritional yeast

What is nutritional yeast?
I don’t know, but it is not the yeast for baking bread. It is easiest to find in the bulk bins at a health food store.
Fat Free Vegan Kitchen can tell you a bit more about it.

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Do you have a favorite vegetarian gravy recipe?
I would love to hear about it!

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Grilled Eggplant Pasta Bake with Lentils and Feta

I have started on a search for the perfect replacement lasagna, and Passionate Vegetarian has several versions I intend to try. This was the first. Once I decided it was not “lasagna,” I loved it–although I need to experiment with making the sauce more saucey (it’s a little dry).

lentil bake

I cut the recipe in half–trial run, and I do not think Rosebud is going to be a fan.

The only recipe drawback is having to flip in the book between three different pages, as it combines component recipes in its assembly.

Shopping list (ingredients that may not be on hand)
eggplant
low-fat milk
cornstarch
evaporated milk
Parmesan cheese
Neufchatel cream cheese
lasagna noodles
onion
garlic
crushed tomatoes
tomato paste
bread for bread crumbs
Italian parsley

Menu planning tips
The recipe does a great job of laying out the order in which to make the component layers. However, keep in mind that you need to soak and cook the lentils for the sauce and salt-water soak and grill/broil the eggplant ahead of time.

I have never cooked eggplant before, and I was not really clear on broiling it (an option mentioned in the margin of the recipe). These directions from Nom Nom Paleo were very helpful. I completely agree about using a mandoline to slice the eggplant evenly. I have a mandoline, but it would not cut the slices as thick as I needed, so, someday, I may look into a new one (she makes a suggestion in her post).

Notes for me on future refinements
I think, add more crushed tomatoes to sauce
Try adding a bit more honey to sauce
Possibly cut down on the herbs
This recipe uses more lasagna noodles than my traditional recipe (make enough!)

Source
Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon, page 363 in 2002 edition.

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Vegetarian Bean Chili

I love to warm up with a bowl of this chili!

chili

Served over rice and garnished with cheddar cheese.

I do not like super “hot” dishes, so I cut the chili powder, cayenne pepper, and white pepper down a bit.

I also did not like randomly biting into cumin seeds, so I switched out ground cumin for the seeds, adjusting the amount appropriately.

Shopping list (ingredients that may not be on hand)
onion
red bell pepper
garlic
crushed tomatoes, canned
beans, canned
corn, frozen
lime
fresh cilantro

Source
The Best Recipe: Soups and Stews, by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, 2001 edition, page 283

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Sweet Potatoes in Orange Cups

I made this for the first time this past Thanksgiving. I expect to be making it for many years to come. It is amazing how good these orange cups taste!

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The original recipe is actually called “Sweet Potatoes with Grand Marnier, in Orange Cups,” but I leave out the Grand Marnier (and compensate with a little extra of the juice from the oranges).

Shopping list (ingredients that may not be on hand)
oranges
deep-red sweet potatoes
(orange liqueur)

Menu planning tips
You may want to save (freeze) orange cups in advance, since there is ample filling.
I cut the recipe in half just fine, though, and the filling matched available oranges pretty closely.
Leave time for baking the sweet potatoes, which will take 45 minutes to an hour.
Bake sweet potatoes on tin foil, not straight on the rack–they ooze.

Source
Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon, page 813 in 2002 edition.

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Vegetable Nut Pie

This is one of my absolute favorite recipes, for the filling . . .

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. . . not so much the crust in the original recipe. So, I am still perfecting that. I will either add a link to the perfect crust when I finally find it or my recipe when I perfect a better version.

But the pie, itself, is so delicious that it is worth tinkering with the crust.

I always use a touch more Gruyere than the recipe calls for. Who can resist?

Shopping list (ingredients that may not be on hand)
carrots
broccoli
scallions
pecans, peanuts, or cashews (I use cashews)
Gruyere cheese

Source
Rodale’s Basic Natural Foods Cookbook, edited by Charles Gerras and Rodale’s staff, page 218, in 1989 edition

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