What Cheese Goes with What Vegetable?

I’ve have been so focused on some of my other projects I have not been cooking as much lately. However, a couple days ago my BFF emailed me asking for some advice about a recipe and was worried about paired the wrong cheese with any given vegetable. And that’s something I’ve had concerns about over the years too.

So I pulled together a list of common cheeses and what kind of vegetable I’ve consistently successfully paired them with:

Feta: Spinach, kale, onions, sweet potato, mushrooms, zucchini

Zucchini pancakes

zucchini pancakes with feta

Blue cheese: butternut squash, bitter/more intense greens, portbello mushrooms

stuffed mushroom

Cheddar: broccoli, onion, cauliflower, tomato

tomato crostada

Tomato crostada with cheddar

Fontina (the kind at Trader Joes): Asparagus, eggplant

spring potato salad

Spring vegetable salad with fontina

Parmesan: basically everything

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Parmesan roasted Cauliflower

Goat cheese: pretty much everything, although not always ideal for baking

zucchini pizza thing

Sauceless pizza with zucchini and goat cheese

I hope you found this little table (illustrated by some of my recipes from this blog) helpful if/when you’re pulling together a new recipe. Let me know if you have any cheese/veggie pairings I missed that you think are awesome! Song of the Week: La La La/Bang Bang mashup from Penn Masala. This is a super fun mashup by one of my favorite a capella groups. It’s fun and super pop-y and I’ve been listing to it a lot when doing tedious stuff at work.

Stuffed Tomatoes

There is one thing I hate about living in DC (besides the weather) – the tomatoes are just bad here. I know I grew up spoiled eating tomatoes growing in my backyard, but still. Disappointing. But baking the tomatoes or sticking them in dishes works fairly well, and I wanted to make Ottolenghi’s Herb-Stuffed Tomatoes recipe ever since I saw the picture. So this week I did, adjusting the recipe based on my fridge as always.

3 tomatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
6 chopped kalamata olives
handful of toasted pine nuts
salt
parmesan for serving (optional)

Cut off the tops of the tomatoes and using a spoon, clear out the middle part of them. Lightly salt the insides of the tomatoes and turn them upside down so the juice comes out. Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic until the onion is transparent and fragrant. Add the bread crumbs, parsley, olives, and pine nuts and mix them in. Take the filling and use it to stuff the tomatoes. Bake at 325 for 3o minutes or until the tomatoes are soft. Sprinkle on parmensan if you want and serve.

Stuffed Tomatoes

I really liked this recipe. It was pretty simple and tasty and hey, if you don’t add the cheese it’s even vegan! It’s not a wow of a recipe, but it’s good. I actually thought it tasted better when I had it as leftovers the next day for lunch. My only warning is that the tomatoes kept tipping over on the pan, which was slightly messy and worrisome. Definitely pair with dry white wine – anything else would be overpowering. Song of the Week: Good as Hell by Lizzo. I heard this song a couple weeks ago on the amazing podcast Soooo Many White Guys, and have been in love with it ever since. It just makes you feel better and more awesome. Also, the background on the chorus. If you can, watch the video too cause it’s also friggin awesome ode to black female beauty.

Pastel de Choclo

I have been meaning to make this for months now. Since I first had it in my Chilean cooking class back in December, I have wanted to try making it at home. And then I kept not doing it. But this week I finally got around to it. Pastel de Choclo is basically a Chilean shepherd’s pie, with a sweet corn topping rather than mashed potatoes. And it is freaking delicious.

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Filling
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium eggplant, chopped
2-3 teaspoons paprika (adjust to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin (adjust to taste)
1 tsp sugar
2 tablespoons rasins
2-3 ounces crumbled feta
olive oil

Saute the onion and garlic for a couple minutes in some olive oil, then add the eggplant, paprika and cumin. Saute, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is soft and cooked, 10 minutes or so. Add the sugar, and then taste and adjust the spices as you see fit. Set aside while you make the topping.

Topping
3 ears of corn, kernels removed and chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
2-3 tsp sugar
Chopped fresh basil or dried basil

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the corn, and basil, and sugar and then slowly add in the milk, stirring frequently. Once all the milk is added, cook on medium heat until the mixture thickens (aka corn and milk sorta combine into a mush). It’ll take awhile – at least 10 minutes. Stir consistently so the bottom doesn’t burn.

Assembly
In a medium, greased casserole dish, place the eggplant mixture. The add a layer of feta and raisins. Then spoon the corn mush so it forms an even top layer. Sprinkle the top with sugar, and bake at 400 until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm.

So. Freaking. Good. I was worried since I wasn’t really involved in making it that it wouldn’t taste the way I remember, but it turned out awesome. I upped the spices a little to counteract the sweet corn, but it works so well with the feta. I can’t wait to make this again. My only issue with it was that I ate a little too much of it each time I had it. Oh well, there are worst things than a recipe being too good to keep to smallish portions. Naturally, I served this with Chilean wine – a really solid Sauvignon blanc. Song of the Week: PMJ’s version of Dancing in the Dark. Confession time: I hate Bruce Springsteen. I sporadically try again, but it’s like “nope.” However, Postmodern Jukebox is awesome and so I’m completely obsessed with their 50s version of it this week.

Eggs in Pattypan Squash

Pattypan squash is such a funny vegetable. It’s like a scalloped flying saucer. I’ve wanted to learn how to cook them for a while, but had no idea how to approach it – and honestly, chopping it into pieces seemed like a waste of their cool shape. But then I found this recipe for Eggs Baked in Pattypan Squash and it seemed like a good thing to try.

3 pattypan squash
2 or 3 eggs
1/3 onion, diced
2 smallish or 1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 pinches dried thyme
salt
olive oil

Trim the ends of the pattypan squash. Then take a spoon and hollow out the middle of the squash, leaving at least 1/4 of an inch of flesh/rind all around. Brush with olive oil and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. While the squash are baking, saute the onion in some olive oil. After a few minutes add the garlic and then the thyme. Once the onion is soft, remove from heat. Into the little pattypan squash holes, scoop in some of the onion mixture. Then crack an egg and slip it into the hole as well. Carefully return it to the oven and bake until the eggs are set/as done as you want them – about 15 minutes.

pattypan squash

I really liked this recipe. The only problem I had with it was the the pattypan squash were too small for a whole egg to go in there! There was some spillage into the baking pan. This was touted (and would make) a great brunch dish, but I had it with salad and wine as a light dinner and that worked well. So this I think was a great, simple introductory recipe to such a funny-looking veggie. Song of the Week: Sit Down John, from 1776. Long before there was Hamilton, there was another surprise Broadway hit about the Revolutionary War – 1776 which focused on the Continental Congress declaring American independence. I have been obsessed with this musical since I was 5 and listen to the soundtrack every 4th of July.

Spiced Peach Tart

I have been continuing with my favorite summer cooking theme – desserts made with fruit this week. I actually called one of my best friends and asked her if she had any suggestions a she mentioned a tart, that was really more of a galette and she said was super quick and easy. The one she recommended called for apples but I went with peaches instead, and added some spices.

1/2 recipe pie crust dough
2-3 large mostly ripe peaches
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Slice the peaches. Stick them in a large bowl and toss with the sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and vanilla until the peaches are evenly coated. Roll the pie crust dough into a large circle and place it on a baking sheet (or pie plate if you prefer. Dump the peaches in the midd of the crust and spread them out, leaving a two inch ring of dough around it. Fold the dough over the peaches – it won’t be totally covered, the center shouldn’t have any dough over it. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes or so – until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm or cold – both are tasty!

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Honestly, my only complaint with this dish is that I should have used more peaches. Also that I used white peaches which I don’t like as much as the yellow ones, but they were on sale, so, c’est la vie. This is super easy and quick to make, and it is very tasty. A solid dessert that you can totally eat for breakfast too. Song of the Week: Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky. I’ve been on a solid Russian composer kick for the past week, and mostly listening to the darker stuff. This was one of the many, but it is excellent.

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