Crab & Avocado Salad; Vegetable Bake

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Today was a scorcher!! I tried to run on the boardwalk this morning and it was almost unbearable! By 11:30, temperatures were reaching 96 degrees! My mom and I were supposed to take a walk to Ocean Grove (about a mile away) for lunch, but I decided to surprise her by making lunch instead.. I figured it would be a little unpleasant walking to lunch in this heat!

My mom arrived home from her tennis match around 12:30 and this special lunch was awaiting her on the balcony:
I searched the fridge for anything that would taste good in this salad, and I must say that this salad was AMAZING. It consisted of a bed of mixed greens, chopped red bell pepper, chopped jicama, avocado, heirloom cherry tomatoes, lump crab meat, and a laughing cow cheese wedge crumbled on top.

We didn't have many dressings to choose from, so I took out some Bragg's Amino Acids spray, Frank's Sweet Chili Sauce, and Siraracha Sauce. The combinations of these 3 condiments were perfect on this salad!
Yum! What a refreshing summer lunch! I also had some sparkling water with lemon for both of us. We were both very satisfied :)

It's just my mom and I at the beach house today, so we wanted to take advantage of the moment without any boys to make a healthy vegetarian meal. I would normally go to my computer and search my library of recipes, but my computer broked down!!!! Yea, just won't turn on. All of my cookbooks are at the other house, so my only other choice was to make up something myself. I LOVE making up recipes. Especially when I know my mom loves the same foods I do. I had a basic idea in my head of what I wanted to make (a vegetable/cheese bake), but was very flexible with the ingredients depending on what looked fresh at the grocery store.

This was the end product:
Vegetable "Lasagna":

-1 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise (I used a funky yellow zucchini that looked really fresh at Wegmans!)
-1 white eggplant, thinly sliced (or you can use any small eggplant)
-1 8 oz package of sliced shitake mushrooms
-1 12 oz package of baby spinach
-2 ripe tomatoes on the vine, sliced
-3/4 cup fat free or low fat cottage cheese
-1/3 cup packed basil leaves, chopped + whole leaves for garnish
-olive oil spray
-2 T. balsamic vinegar
-Coconut oil or spray
-salt and pepper
-1/4 c. crumbled goat cheese
-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
-1/4 tsp. garlic flakes
-about 1 cup of your favorite marinara

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Arrange eggplant slices on a sheet tray and spray both sides with olive oil and brush with balsamic vinegar. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Bake approximately 15-20 minutes or until cooked through and browned (flipping halfway through).
3. Heat a 9 inch skillet over medium heat and spray with coconut spray (or add 1 tsp coconut oil).
4. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt, pepper, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp. garlic flakes. Reserve.
5. In the same skillet, spray again with coconut spray or add another tsp. of coconut oil. Heat on high.
6. Add shitake mushrooms and cook until the moisture is evaporated and mushrooms are browned. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.
7. Mix the cottage cheese with salt, pepper, chopped basil and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg.
8. In an 8x8" casserole dish spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce and layer the zucchini, overlapping.
9. Add a thin layer of cottage cheese mixture (about half of it) and top with spinach and mushrooms. Top with more sauce and the eggplant. Add the rest of the cottage cheese and sliced tomatoes. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.
10. Uncover the casserole and increase the oven heat to 400 degrees. Top with goat cheese. Bake for another 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and a bit browned.
11. Important: Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing! My mom and I were too impatient and hungry and dug right in. BIG mistake.. It was too watery and didn't set yet. We realized later that the casserole cut better once it cooled off a bit!
Served on the balcony with some Zinfindel, ice water in a JAR (such a cool way to serve drinks), and Copolla crushed red pepper.

We were licking our bowls because it was SO good! I can't wait to make it again!


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