Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Michael Pollan is my husband's new hero. I think he [Michael] would've been proud of this dinner: Roasted green bean and tomato salad (with basil and tomatoes from our garden!), homemade focaccia (with a little whole wheat----sorry, can't have all whole wheat with focaccia!), strawberries, and water. This dinner had the mostly plants part down. Now I need to work on the "not too much" aspect.


Roasted Green Bean Tomato Salad (ala my fabulous sister Leah)

~2 lbs green beans, weird end trimmed off
3 tomatoes---or some cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic
fresh basil (or dried if you're in a pinch)----several leaves

*Toss beans with a drizzle of olive oil. Roast in a shallow pan at 450 for about 30 mins. Make sure they're not crisp and underdone, but also that they aren't crisp and overdone. [They become papery with little hard nuggets if they're done too long. Trust me, I've had lots of paper/tomato salad.]

*Chop tomatoes and chiffonade basil.

*Macerate tomatoes in ~1/4 c. balsamic with a bit of olive oil, too and the crushed garlic clove.

*Once beans are done and slightly cooled off, add them to everything.

*Salt somewhat liberally and grind pepper.

*Return and report how wonderful your dinner was~!

Simple Focaccia (ala Vegetarian Epicure via my fabulous sister Leah)

1 TBS dry yeast
1 1/4 c. warm water
3 TBS. olive oil
3-3 1/2 c. flour---white, wheat or combo
pinch of sugar
1 tsp. salt
coarse sea salt to taste

Dissolve yeast in warm water with the sugar, and leave it for about 15 mins, until it starts to foam. Add the salt and half the olive oil, then start stirring in the flour, one scoop at a time.

Knead gently, working in as much more of the flour as you must to keep it from sticking---but don't let it get dry and crumbly. [This is where my Kitchenaid with the dough hook came in handy.] When dough is smooth and elastic, form it into a ball and put it in an oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover the bowl and leave the dough in a warm place to rise for about 45 mins., or until almost double in size.

Punch the dough down, lift it out of the bowl onto an oiled baking sheet, and pat or roll it into a large, thick oval, about 12 x 16". Cover it with a cloth and leave it to rise again for at least 30 mins, or until almost doubled.

Brush focaccia delicately with the remaining olive oil, and sprinkle it with some coarse sea salt. Fresh grated Parmesan cheese and rosmary are also delicious. (You can also try thinly sliced red onions, tomatoes, zucchini, etc.) If you like, gently dimple the top of the focaccia with your fingertips.

Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 20-25 mins, or until it is golden on top and sounds hollow when the bottom crust is tapped. Cut in squares or pie shapes and serve hot or warm.

Side note: When my nephew (now 13) was 3, his church nursery leader asked him what he was thankful for. His answer? "Focaccia." That's a tribute to this recipe, and my sister, the fabulous chef.
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