Eggs in a Vegetable Nest

Skillet with vegetable hash, 2 eggs, salsa, and feta.This quick dinner is neither a true hash nor a true succotash, but combines elements of both depending on the ingredients available to you in the moment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relied on this simple equation on nights when I’ve been out all day long and don’t even have the energy to be extroverted enough to call for delivery. The execution is simple: take 2-3 cups of finely diced vegetables, some herbs or other seasoning to give it a flavour foundation, 1 or 2 eggs, and a few of your favourite toppings. Sauté the vegetables in a little bit of olive oil or butter until they begin to soften and are heated through. Crack the egg(s) over the vegetable mixture and put a tight fitting lid over the pan, allowing the eggs to cook until they’re done to your liking. Take off the heat and slide the mixture onto a plate, generously top with anything that looks like it would make your dinner taste wonderful.  As you can see, this recipe is open to wide interpretation which is what makes it so perfectly flexible when your fridge feels empty.

Here are some of my favourite combinations for Eggs in a Vegetable Nest:

Roasted corn, sweet peppers, banana peppers, scallions, cumin, lime juice, salsa, and Macedonian feta (as seen above)

Cubed sweet potatoes or yams, shallots, zucchini, red peppers, dried basil, Greek yogurt, Monterey Jack, and cilantro

Ripe tomatoes, cubed eggplant, shallots, garlic, dried oregano, chili flakes, fresh basil, and crumbled chèvre

Honey Roasted Carrots

Roasted Carrots

I have always found carrots to be less than exciting. Maybe part of the indifference comes from the disparity between their spectacular colour and lacklustre flavour – even young, tender carrots leave me wanting. The other night at the grocery store I asked Ian what he’d like for dinner as a side for risotto balls and he responded with “carrots.” I was up for the challenge and remembered a very similar formula for roasted parsnips that received a considerable amount of enthusiasm and thought that the same principles would apply. I am happy to report that the carrot transformation was a  complete success. These honey roasted carrots are sweet and softly salty, the honey glaze turns into a sticky toffee-like coating that brings out a flavour that captures exactly what I feel carrots should taste like; something oddly bright and earthy at the same time.

honey roasted carrots:

7 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch strips

3 Tbsp. of honey

3 Tbsp. of vegetable oil

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 cup of fresh basil or parsley (or both), cut into a thin chiffonade or snipped with scissors

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Whisk together the honey, vegetable oil, and kosher salt in a small bowl. In a large mixing bowl mix the honey and oil mixture with the carrot strips until they are well coated.

3. Either line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil, adding non-stick cooking spray if using the latter. Distribute the carrots evenly and bake for 35-40 minutes, turning the carrots halfway through the cooking time for even roasting.

4. Transfer the honey roasted carrots to a serving platter immediately and garnish generously with fresh basil and some additional salt to taste.

I’ve had the new Mazzy Star album Seasons of Your Day on repeat for the past 4 hours and just on in general since I first listened to it being streamed on the CBC website. For the most part the album sounds like an extension of their earlier records and of the Warm Inventions which is exactly what I what anticipating and hoping for. This is rainy day music at its best and a dream soundtrack for the grey Vancouver weather we’ve been hurriedly thrown into; autumn always feels more inviting with the presence of fuzzy warmth in the form of music.

Mazzy Star – In the Kingdom

Easy Bean and Rice Bowl with Sweet Peppers

Salsa rice

In many ways this is the perfect recipe for last minute meals. Made with odds and ends you may have floating around in your fridge it comes together quickly and is endlessly adaptable. For the rice you can sub in brown rice, purple rice, quinoa, orzo or bulghur, it just needs to result in about 3 cups cooked. Other things that are good include steamed broccoli, spinach, corn, crumbled feta, sundried tomatoes, dry fried tofu, chipotle peppers, etc., etc.

easy bean and rice bowl with sweet peppers:

1 cup of dry basmati rice, cooked

1 Tbsp. canola or grapeseed oil

2 sweet peppers, finely diced

1 small bunch of scallions, white and green parts roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 Tbsp. pickled jalapeno peppers, minced

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups of salsa

1 cup of grated cheese, something neutral will melt easily; such as mozzarella, monterey jack or havarti

Salt to taste

Guacamole, diced tomatoes and sour cream for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large skillet saute the peppers, garlic and scallions until soft. Add the beans, cooked rice and salsa and stir to combine.

3. Put the rice and bean mixture into a casserole dish and cover with the grated cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese on top has browned.

It’s been an Echo & the Bunnymen sort of week; I’ve been listening to them at work, at friend’s houses and while making lunch on a holiday Monday. Nothing says “Happy Birthday Queen Victoria!” like some heartfelt gloomy pop on a grey afternoon in May.

Echo & the Bunnymen – The Killing Moon