Sunday, May 15, 2011

Roasted Vegetables with Goat Cheese and Strawberries

Your mouth will thank you
Spring is a magical time for so many reasons. Waking up to birds chirping, having several hours after work to enjoy the sweet sun, and fresh food growing right outside your door. Well technically not my door, as I have no space for a garden, but Farmers Markets are in full swing, and I am like a kid in an appropiately healthy candy store.
Local Strawberries, NOTHING better
Asheville is full of wonderful farmers markets, there is one almost every day during the summer. During the week Im working, but Saturdays from 9-1 there is a farmers market downtown that is worth getting up early for.

Vertically Challenged bread was $2 bucks off!
Now, I cannot take full credit for this dish. The farmers market was having a cooking Demo, and the head Chef from "Knife and Fork" was grilling vegetables and placing them on bread with a dollop of goat cheese and grilled strawberries. Being the great local chef he is, I asked where he got his idea, and he replied, "This morning! I looked around, saw what the farmer's had and just threw this together." Once you know about food, you can look at ingredients and make something delicious every time. Every day I learn more about flavors, and what flavors compliment each other.
I do not have a grill, sigh, but I had wanted to try baking vegetables in this local greek dressing I bought last week at the same market. A little bit of good dressing goes a LONG way. I also did not heat my strawberries, so they were room temperature, which I enjoyed more than the grilled ones. I like playing with hot and cold, especially in the summer when hot food can often just be too hot to eat. During July and August if I haven't cooked by noon, I aint gonna cook. Being in a hot kitchen in July is just miserable

Goat cheese 4 LIFE!
This dish will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. The more I learn about cooking, the more I understand the concept of "developing flavors". I've watched the Bravo show, "Top Chef" for years, and they always talk about the success of a dish as too how well the flavors develop in your mouth when you are eating it. Ingredients can be simple, or complicated, cheap or expensive, but in the end what matters is if they work well together. When you bite into something special, you taste one flavor, then another, then another, and the flavors develop in your mouth, you know someone thought about how the ingredients would work TOGETHER.

Healthy boyfriend was skeptical when I told him what we would be eating for dinner. After his first bite, he was silent; he couldn't eat it fast enough. Its so fun when someone is skeptical about a dish, makes the enjoyment that much sweeter. Food surprises are the best!

What's incredible about this recipe is each ingredient tastes fresh and unique, but also as a whole each flavor adds to the dish.
The ingredients may sound odd, but this is one of the best dishes Ive ever eaten. Not only does it play with sweet and savory, it plays with temperature and texture. This dish is a playground of flavor, the fun just never stops!
I could drink this stuff

Best of all I used about 75% local ingredients which is so exciting! Local organic strawberries, Farm and Sparrow seeded bread, Spinning Spider Creamery Goat Cheese, and Papou's Greek Dressing from a woman who makes local greek food. If you are in the Asheville area, this is about as good as it gets. Though I encourage any of you to find your local farmers market and make it your beeswax to go. Not only is it the most environmentally friendly food you can eat, it also taste the best! Fresh picked food does not even compare to grocery store food. Fresh strawberries taste nothing like the ones you buy in the grocery store; the first time I had a local strawberry I was in shock. It was like I'd never had a real strawberry before. You should have a rough plan of how to make the food you buy at the farmer's market, fresh food goes bad quickly because its not filled with chemicals. Talk to the farmers you buy the food from, often they have simple delicious recipes and are happy to share them with you. As you see, I got all my ideas from the farmers, by the end of the summer who knows how much Ill learn!

This dish is as flexible as a olympic gymnast, use a different kind of goat cheese, a different type of fruit, depending on where you live, your local farmers will have different ingredients. Also I just asked healthy boyfriend to pick up some type of squash and onion. Yellow squash, acorn squash, eggplant, purple onion, any and all would be great roasted vegetables. Play with your food people!

Roasted Vegetables with Goat Cheese and Strawberries

The Goods: Serves 4-6 as a meal, 10-12 as an appetizer
1 loaf hard top bakery whole wheat bread, sliced into 2 inch rectangles(see picture below)
1 quart strawberries, sliced
8 ounces rosemary and fig goat cheese
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 medium zucchinis, sliced into 1/2 inch coins
2-3 tablespoons Greek Vinegrette dressing

The Deal: 
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl combine onions, zucchini and greek dressing. Make sure to evenly coat all the vegetables, add more dressing if needed. Place vegetables on large baking sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes, turning twice during cooking time to ensure even browning. Remove once onions and zucchinis are lightly browned and fork slides in easily.

Get good hard top bread from a local Bakery
Onions, you gonna bake up goooood
2. While your vegetables are cooking, place a decent layer of goat cheese on each bread rectangle. Once your vegetables are ready, promptly place a heaping tablespoon of vegetables on each piece of bread. Finish each bread piece with a few slices of strawberries, and serve immediately.
THATS a good Saturday night
Get ready, your mouth will never be the same.

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