Best Veggies 5 Ways

Sweet Maple Green Beans, Grilled Fennel & Eggplant,
Squash Fries and Easiest Meatless Meal

Stepping out from canned or frozen vegetables, try Best Veggies 5 Ways – some different ways to serve up a variety of vegetables, all at one meal or separately.  Let’s see: there are 2 grilled vegetables, Eggplant and Fennel, Squash Fries and Easiest Meatless Meal done in the oven and then cooked on the stovetop Sweet Maple Green Beans,which makes me think of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

All the recipes in Best Veggies 5 Ways are quite simple. The Grilled Eggplant comes with a oil/herb blend that is used to brush on the pieces before grilled and could certainly be varied or used as is for other grilled vegetables. I think I may even try it with fish or chicken.

Salt the eggplant first, just lightly, then pat dry with a clean cloth towel or some paper toweling. Sometimes I put it in a colander to drain but the juices are good, too, so you may want to keep them if you can use them in something else you are cooking.

So let's start! Here's the first of Best Veggies 5 Ways:

Simple Grilled Fennel
 
Fennel has a very distinct licorice flavor and when it’s grilled becomes a tender, melt-in-your-mouth experience you don’t want to miss.

Ingredients:

Fennel
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Directions:

1.    Trim the tops off the fennel. (The stringy parts can be used as an herb in your cooking, but aren’t needed for this recipe. You can even use the stalks in place of celery in some recipes, but realize they’ll have a much stronger flavor than celery)

2.    Trim the bottom of the bulb and then cut the remaining bulb lengthwise into quarters.

3.    Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4.    Place on grill at medium heat to sear the fennel.

5.     Move to indirect heat, with the cut side up, and cook covered for about 45 minutes or until fennel is very soft. You can tell when it’s done by texture, rather than time. You definitely want to make sure it’s tender.


Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Herbs
 
Fresh herbs are best with this recipe, but if you don’t have any on hand, you can certainly use their dried counterparts. Just use a pinch of each herb if you’re using dried.

Ingredients:

1 eggplant
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh thyme, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

Directions:

1.    Cut the eggplant into slices and salt them lightly. Let them sit for about 15 minutes, so the salt can bring out the moisture of the pieces. Wipe them dry with a bit of paper towel or clean cloth.

2.    Meanwhile, combine the oil, vinegar, garlic herbs, salt and pepper. Let sit to absorb the flavors for about 15 minutes.

3.    Brush eggplant with oil and herb mixture all over, ensuring that the herbs get distributed well.

4.    Place on a lightly greased grill and grill for about 15-20 minutes, flipping half way through.  

Mix the herbs with olive oil and garlic.

Then let the flavors blend for about 15 minutes.


Oven-Baked Summer Squash Fries

A summer squash has a strong resemblance, in flavor and texture, to a zucchini. You can, in fact, substitute zucchini in this recipe, but it will probably bake a bit more quickly.

Ingredients:

1 medium summer squash
2 eggs
1 ½ cups breadcrumbs (try panko breadcrumbs for a crunchier texture)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon mustard power
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Directions:

1.    Preheat oven to 400 F. 
2.    Grease a large baking sheet with olive oil and set aside.

3.    Cut your summer squash into wedges. Remove the seeds if they are quite large and set wedges aside.

4.    Whisk the eggs in a dish and set aside.

5.    In another dish, combine the bread crumbs, paprika, mustard powder and salt and pepper.

6.    Start by dipping the wedges, one by one, into the egg mixture and then the bread crumb mixture. Place each wedge on the greased baking sheet, slightly apart. Continue until all the wedges are done.

7.    You can bake the wedges as is for about 30-40 minutes (until soft inside and golden brown on the outside) but if you want a more golden texture, drizzle or spray some olive oil on top of the wedges. Flip half way through baking.

Serve with ranch or another favorite dip.



Sweet Maple Green Beans
 
If you’re being good and eating your green beans, you may as well make a treat of them. These beans sautéed in butter and maple syrup are tender, sweet and delicious.  Perfect for  Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners.

Alyssa suggests adding chopped onion and bacon bits and we might just do that for Thanksgiving! I can see cranberries (fresh or dried) adding a touch of color for fun and tartness to counteract the sweetness and I’m starting to wonder about some toasted pecans, sliced almonds or walnuts. You can see the problems we run into when we cook! Maybe you like to cook that  way, too!

Ingredients:

2 cups green beans
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt and pepper

Directions:

1.    Steam green beans until softened.
2.    Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.
3.    Add the maple syrup and green beans saute for a few minutes.
4.    Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.



And the last of Best Veggies 5 Ways is

Easiest Meatless Meal


Best Veggies 5 Ways

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