Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bon Voyage Vegetable Tian

My friend and neighbor Natasha, had a dinner party last night. Just about everyone at the party thought she was crazy. You see she was leaving for Mumbai, India today for her parents 50th Anniversary Celebration. We all agreed that not a one of us would have had a party the night before we were leaving on a month long trip. But party she did.
Twenty people were invited and we were told what to bring. As the sun set, and the grill warmed up we mingled, drank a chilled rose and caught up on each others lives.
Dinner was a wonderful affair! We were served marinated flank steak and salmon covered in garlic and parsley, both grilled to perfection by her husband Chris. A tomato tart filled with sliced tomatoes, garlic, basil and cheese, an asparagus tart, flavored with cheese and herbs. I brought a Vegetable Tian I put together an hour before the party started. Dessert was even more amazing, a rich chocolate cake (Natasha swore she would get me the recipe), brownies and cookies.
It was a beautiful evening, and I am so glad my friend has the energy to throw a party the night before she travels around the world with two kids!
I used a mandoline to slice the vegetables thinly. A mandoline makes quick work of a very tedious job.
The tomatoes and scapes were cut by hand. Buying vegetables the same width makes a nicer presentation and allows for more uniform cooking. I was originally going to add eggplant, but since it was thicker than the other vegetables, I decided to save it for ratatouille. The tian was out of the oven a good hour before we ate it and was delicious at room temperature.
Vegetable Tian
Printable Recipe Vegetable Tian pdf

1 red onion, sliced thinly
4 garlic scapes sliced thinly
3 zucchini, sliced thinly
3 summer squash, sliced thinly
9 Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
3 tablespoons olive oil
fresh thyme leaves off 4-5 branches
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and scapes and cook until colored. Turn out into the casserole dish and spread evenly over the bottom.
Place the sliced tomato, zucchini and squash on top of the onions alternating them as you go.
Sprinkle with olive oil, fresh thyme leaves, sea salt and pepper.
Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake another 25 minutes until the cheese is brown.

Bon Voyage Natasha!
All text and photos are property of the Gypsy Chef

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A TSA Friendly Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

Eating on an airplane has it's hazards. The food offered is generally mediocre and expensive. It's hard to imagine anything more unappetizing than a cold, soggy, plastic encased day old turkey wrap with a side of sun chips. Then we ask you to pay $9.00 for these gastronomic masterpieces. As a flight attendant I've been desperate enough to eat these offerings and let me tell you, it's not a banquet for a Queen. More like alms for the poor. I've found with a little planning you can eat well for less. And in this economy, who doesn't like that?
One of my favorite things to bring is a grilled vegetable sandwich. Flavorful, delicious at room temperature and easy to pack. I wrap all the ingredients separately and assemble it on the plane. Just ask a F/A for a set of plastic flatware and your ready to eat a wonderful lunch while your fellow travelers look on longingly.

The TSA or Transportation Security Administration have developed rules for bringing food on board an aircraft, but it's easy to live within these guidelines. Just remember no liquids over 3 ounces, no cutlery or glassware. In other words, leave behind you chef's knife, wine bottle and glasses.
I usually start by grilling my vegetables the day before. I place those in a seal plastic container. I then cut and split my bread, and wrap it separately in plastic wrap. The cheese I place in a zip lock bag and finally pack it all together in a large zip lock bag to carry on board. If I have a small amount of pesto or sauce to spread on my bread, I place it in a small single serving "Gladware" container. You can always pull it out of your bag for inspection while your passing through security. Be careful, if it looks too good, some hungry agent may confiscate it!
Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

1/4 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper
1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4 thick slices
1 red onion, cut in half across the width, leaving the skin, root end and blossom end attached
2 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
handful oven roasted tomatoes
enough fresh pesto to spread on the bread
1 piece of ciabatta bread, split
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat an outdoor grill.
Place the cut side of the onion on the grill. When the grill marks appear, turn the onion and position it on the grill so that it is sitting up right. brush it with olive oil. Place it on the side and continue to cook until it's soft. Peel the skin, and slice into 1/4 inch slices.
Place whole red pepper on the grill. When the skin has blacken on one side, give it a quarter turn and continue turning it until all sides are black. Place it in a paper bag, seal it and allow to cool. This will steam the pepper and enable you to peel it easily. Once cool, peel pepper removing seeds and stem. Cut into large pieces.
Lay the zucchini slices on the grill, when grill marks appear, turn and brush with olive oil. Turn again after the other side is marked and brush with olive oil once again. Remove when the zucchini is soft.
To assemble, spread pesto on bread. Lay zucchini slices on the bread, top with red pepper slices, onion rings, mozzarella and oven roasted tomatoes.
This sandwich is good as is, but exceptional toasted.

All text and pictures are property of the Gypsy Chef