Most of us make New Year’s resolutions with enthusiasm only to see them fade to a distant memory within a few short weeks. As our “January-is-good-for-you” month comes to a close, we’d like to celebrate Joan’s sister Jeri, for hanging in there and making her resolution come true. Jeri has been a faithful fan of our blog and is a terrific cook in her own right. Over the last year she’s been testing recipes for our family cookbook, La Cucina Marinello (stay tuned on that one) and, quite a few pasta dishes and Italian cookie recipes later, she needed to change her diet – stat! And change her diet she did. We’re not here to promote the weight loss plan she chose, but we will promote how Jeri supplements her meals with easy to prepare vegetable dishes that are low in calories and fat, and absolutely delicious. As for Jeri, pounds lighter and feeling healthy and energetic, we couldn’t be prouder that this is one woman who is keeping her New Year’s resolution. You go, girl!
Roasted Carrot “French Fries”
These carrots do not suffer from using a small amount of oil. Delicious, crisp, and guilt-free. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Use whole medium to large carrots: Peel them, cut into 3 to 4-inch pieces, cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half into approximately 3 strips per half. Place carrot strips on a large baking sheet. Lightly spray carrots with cooking spray; toss. Drizzle approximately 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil over the carrots; toss. Season with kosher salt and black pepper; toss. (You can also sprinkle with hand crushed basil or herb of choice). Place on middle oven rack and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, tossing once halfway through roasting.
Salting and icing the eggplant before cooking removes the bitterness and keeps the eggplant from absorbing oil when sautéing. Cut unpeeled eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Place a colander in a bowl, add eggplant cubes, salt generously, add crushed ice at the halfway mark and then on top; place a plate over top and weight it down. Allow to drain for at least 1 hour. Using a large skillet, spray with cooking spray and warm the skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add eggplant, season with salt and pepper, tossing constantly. As eggplant begins to brown, drizzle approximately 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Continue tossing until eggplant is browned and tender. Remove from heat, add generous amount of freshly chopped garlic. Top with fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, or oregano. Use mint if you have it for a particularly refreshing contrast. This is also delicious as a pizza topping.
So simple and healthy. Can be served as side dish, over pasta, or eaten as a snack. Smaller unpeeled zucchini are preferable (about 1 1/2-inch diameter), cut into slices about 1/2-inch thick. Using a large skillet, spray with cooking spray, and warm the skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add zucchini in batches, single layer, do not crowd. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Brown well on both sides. Transfer to serving bowl. Top with chopped fresh parsley, basil, or herb of choice if desired.