Friday, December 1, 2017

One-Pan Dinner from Canada!

Happy December everyone! We are now in that most trying time of year. Jingle Bells is on the radio around the clock, all those happy families gathered round the tree in commercials make us look at our own relatives and think "yeah right," and despite having a round of Christmas parties to go to and party clothes outfits we may or may not fit in as it is, there will be pies. And so, we at A Book of Cookrye are trying to find creative ways to get through the month without going up a clothing size.
Remember how last year I crossed national borders for the first time in years? Yes indeed, I went to Canada, and all I brought home was this magazine (previously seen here).

Unlike a lot of food magazines you'd see in America, a lot of the recipes look like they actually meant for you to try them at home. They even had an entire chapter dinners you do on a single baking sheet. Which brings us to today's perpetration...

Yes indeed, we're doing the cover recipe! The article was called "Simplifying Supper," but does the recipe live up to the premise?

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables and Baked Eggs with Feta
1 medium sweet potato
1 red bell pepper
1 head fresh fennel
1 red onion
1 zucchini
2 tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp paprika*
Salt and pepper
4 large eggs
¼ c crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
⅓ cup olive oil

Heat oven to 475°. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and grease it.
Cut all vegetables into 1-inch dice, except the tomatoes which you cut into halves. You can save the fennel leaves for decorating the plates if you want to be fancy with no extra effort, or chop them finely.
Toss the sweet potato with 2 tbsp olive oil and salt to taste. Spread the pieces over the pan and bake 10 minutes, or until it begins to soften.
Mix the other vegetables, coat with remaining oil, garlic, rosemary, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Push the sweet potatoes to one side of the pan and put the vegetables onto the vacated space. Be sure everything is in a single layer, and that the tomatoes are skin-side down. Bake 30 minutes or until everything is soft and slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally.
Remove pan from oven, and mix the vegetables. Divide them into into four piles, and turn each pile into a ring, the center of which is just big enough to push a tomato half into. Be sure the chopped vegetables are higher than the tomato halves on all sides, or else the egg won't stay on top of everything. Do this quickly so nothing has time to cool.
Crack an egg into each portion, and shake salt and pepper over each. Sprinkle with feta cheese and return the oven. Bake 6-8 minutes, depending on how done you want the eggs. Sprinkle with parsley.
Using a large spatula, put portions on plates.

NOTE: You can roast the vegetables ahead of time. Just be sure to get vegetables and pan really hot before cracking the eggs over them.

*Hot smoked paprika if you feel like obsessively and strictly sticking to the original.

Source: Food and Drink, Autumn 2016, Liquor Control Board of Ontario

Holy snizzbat, this really is easy! Cut vegetables, bake on a sheet pan, make into mounds, crack eggs on them, bake again until edible! Heck, they don't even have you take the time to cut them into small bits!
That was quick.

Also, the bell pepper I got had just the faintest blush of color which I thought was really pretty. Not that anyone would notice it after the pepper got cut up and cooked, but still...

Seriously, I love how you don't even cut the vegetables into tiny pieces. If you have even mediocre knife skills, you'll have the onion cut up before your eyes get irritated.

I was going to just cut up a bunch of vegetables that were lurking in the back of the refrigerator in varying states of squishiness, but behold what was on sale at the supermarket!

In case you're like me and couldn't identify the thing in the picture without a label, that is fresh fennel. Italians apparently cook the whole thing as a vegetable. I don't know how much of this other people cook, but I used the whole thing- white base, green stems, and all.
I've never eaten fennel in any form before, not even from a spice shaker. And... it's sweet. Surprisingly sweet, almost like stevia leaves, but with more actual flavor. When you expect something to taste like leafy greens, the almost fruit-like sweetness is a bit of a shock. I'm surprised fennel doesn't show up in desserts as much as cinnamon does.
I can't believe garlic sat around my kitchen long enough to look like this.

Right, that was a whole ten minutes spent cutting things, let's get this in the oven!
Just dumping things on a pan is gloriously satisfying after taking cooking classes where you were expected to be obsessed with presentation.

I'm usually skeptical about the portion sizes of recipes from high-end magazines. They assume that the hoity-toity magazine purchasers aren't going to eat. But, for the record, this pan contains half the recipe. You will note that said half-quantity recipe barely fits.
According to the recipe writers, this serves two. For once, the writers might be right.

Let us pause here and note the best part of this recipe so far. Below you will see literally all the dishes used in getting this ready to bake.

Now, they're not kidding when they say to make a well in the center of each pile for the egg to land in. The egg will run right down the side of your vegetable mountain and onto the pan if you don't. It's still edible of course, but looks like this.

If you're wondering why half the vegetables went missing, I wondered how I would ever eat a whole pan of this at once, and decided to instead save half of them for later. As you can see, a very generous portion remained- even if it looked like someone threw it at the pan. Let's see how we did on the second attempt:

Well, it doesn't look as decorative as the magazine cover, at all. How did they get the yolks to sit completely on top of the whites instead of in the middle of them? I think whoever made this for the photoshoot cooked the whites until solid, then dropped the yolks on top.
But that's all right, because I saved the fennel leaves and therefore have a garnish!
Maybe I should have chopped the fennel first.It looks like I dropped grass clippings on dinner.

As for how this tastes.... astonishingly good! Like, if you didn't see the recipe first, you'd never guess that it's so healthy. Don't ask how or why, but this is a lot better than the list of ingredients says it should be. Happy December, everyone, and good luck to those of us who are trying not to bust our diets too badly!


  1. Confession: I don't like sweet potatoes. I think that might be American heresy, but this? This is just baked veggies in a pan. I bet you could throw in anything and it would still taste yummy. I might have to cook this myself to tell myself I'm being "good" before I eat half a dozen cookies in one sitting.

    I've only ever seen the little feathery parts of fennel sold as a spice. The dried stuff has a kind of licorice-y taste--it might be kind of different fresh, though, sort of like the difference between fresh and dried ginger.

    1. I thought sweet potatoes were kind of all right ish, but that's because every other recipe I've seen adds a lot of sugar. They're actually a lot better if you don't mash them and sweeten them into a weird casserole-dessert. But yeah, what I like about this recipe is how you can put whatever you want in it.
      You know, I've never used fennel in any form before. I may have to track some down.

  2. After years of reading retro recipe blogs, I know not to trust any recipe that instructs you to make a ring. I'm amazed that you were able to make some that did keep the egg in the center.

    1. Yeah, those usually end up disastrous. But with this one, I figured it'd still be edible whether it worked or not, and also I used foil so whatever happened, I wouldn't spend an hour scouring the pan.

  3. Fennel bulb is OK cooked, but really lovely sliced thinly and eaten fresh.

    1. I did try a sliver of the bulb part as I was cutting everything up and you are very right.