Thursday, November 09, 2006

Adding some color to dinner...

We certainly got our fill of greens in both the side and main portion of tonight's dinner. We started off with a Warm Spinach Salad with Apples, Bacon, and Cranberries. The dressing consists of balsamic vinegar, sugar, cranberry juice, Dijon and seasonings that are boiled for just a minute to create enough heat that will ever-so-slightly wilt the tender baby spinach. Before the dressing is drizzled over, sour cream is whisked in for a touch of richness and body. The salad portion is a mixture of tart apples, red onions, dried cranberries along with the spinach. Warm, tangy, smooth and not too acidic, the dressing was light enough to still allow the fresh flavor of the spinach to shine through, but still strong enough to calm the tartness in the apples and cranberries. Instead of croutons, crumbled bacon just before serving adds a salty and crunchy finish.

Dinner tonight, Broccoli and Three-Cheese Casserole kind of reminded me of another dish where we used cooked rice to form a base crust for the dish. Brown basmati rice, Parmesan and seasonings are bound with an egg and egg white, and then patted in the bottom of a baking dish. Shredded fontina forms the next layer which adds an almost sweet and buttery component to the dish. Crisp tender broccoli and sauteed onions are then tossed on top followed by sharp white cheddar for the third cheese in the recipe. After a quick whisk, a custard of eggs, soy milk and black pepper are poured on top - as it cooks, this mixture will help hold the filling together so tidy slices can be cut. Before being baked, a sharp crunchy topping made from panko breadcrumbs and a bit more Parmesan is scattered on top. Once baked and slightly cooled, this cut quite cleanly and was pretty easy to get out of the baking dish. The nutty rice crust with a hint of heat from crushed red pepper was a fun twist to the casserole. The broccoli kept its integrity without becoming mushy while the three cheeses brought just enough flavor to each layer to round out of the dish.

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