Saturday, September 23, 2006


We had our Shoreline Chapbook group meeting last night at Helmi's place. Supper is always a free-form potluck. It usually turns out very well, partly because Helmi always has a main course and her perfect corn fritters, plus a dessert, so we could pretty much bring nothing and have something. I like surprise potlucks. Planning and committing to bring a specific dish just don't work for me because I'm never sure what I'll feel like, how much time I'll have and what's good on the day of the potluck.

I do have a hang-up about potlucks. I am always afraid that nobody will bring vegetables. I have got over most of my unhealthy food rules/limitations but a meal without veg filling half the plate is something I dislike intensely. I can't enjoy the yummy other stuff unless there's a load of veg to balance it. And the veg has to be yummy too. An iceberg lettuce salad from a styro takeout box does not count. Nor does a veggie platter unless there's something unusual and nice about it.

As a result of this obsession, I always bring veggies to potlucks. Sometimes a big salad with real lettuce and other delightful ingredients, sometimes something cooked. Last night I found eggplants looking like gifts from heaven at the produce store so I made a really easy and simple and yummy eggplant and mixed-veg casserole. Here's the recipe in case you are going to a potluck.

1 big mama egglplant - you could use 1 or 2 of the long Japanese kind if they look better
1 big red onion
as much garlic as you like
2 handfulls of fresh mushrooms
2 red or yellow or orange bell peppers
1 plumpish zucchini
2 handfuls of ripe tomatoes

Wash and cut up the vegetables into big chunks. Toss the zucchini and bell pepper and eggplant pieces in olive oil and roast them in a 450F oven for about 15 minutes, turning to brown both sides. When the corners of the peppers start to get toasty it's time to take everything out.

Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic and mushrooms just until they let go of their crispiness.

Let the tomatoes sit on the side and toss them in after everything else is cooked. The heat of the other veggies is enough to cook them a bit without turning them to mush.

Throw everything into a big casserole (3-4 litres). Stir in about 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or red wine if you don't have the vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and oregano, or whatever you think will make it taste nice. Keep it simple.

Sprinkle feta cheese over the top. Take it to the potluck just like that.

When you get there you can stick it in the oven (about 350) until everyone's ready to eat or nuke it in the microwave for about 10 minutes to fully reheat, just before serving.

question: what's your potluck specialty?

mompoet - vegetable assurance specialist

No comments: