Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Waiting For Ruby : Goat Cheese Vegetable "Lasagna"

Something new is happening in the lives of the people around me. That something is a little thing called... BABIES. So many of my friends are blessed with little ones and getting to witness that proof of love is something quite magical! Maybe this is why they enter the world with such celebrations, being the little heart-melters that they are. The blog world may not exactly be real life, but don't worry, we still know how to party through posts when separated by thousands of miles. So, this week a few of us are throwing our friend Shelley a virtual baby shower for the nearly-here Ruby! Isn't that the sweetest name? Stick around for dishes from many friends that can be stored in your freezer!

Shelley is basically the best. When I was first starting out (ok, I'm still starting out...story of my life) about two years ago in Austin, I was so inspired by the blogging atmosphere. The food bloggers in Austin have an amazing little community and I was so grateful to be around such lovely people. I remember the first day of the food blogger conference we attended at the flagship Whole Foods very clearly. I was a bit unsure of myself, had some crappy business cards and wasn't sure how food bloggers were supposed to act. I met some pretty neat people there and made some friends but only one of the bloggers sought me out to tell me that I should keep the name of my blog, and it was Shelley. In her naturally friendly way, she told me that a blog name really sets the tone for your work and just in the moment when I was thinking of overhauling mine, she told me it was cute and personal and I should leave it. Needless to say, hers was the first blog I really started to follow. She has an incredible ability to make perfect looking baked goods and if I 'm ever half as good as she is, I'll consider myself a success.

So, Shelley dear, thank you for being such an inspirational food blogger! I wish you all of the best throughout the rest of your pregnancy and delivery and can't wait to hear about the ways in which you will most certainly be the very best Mom to sweet little Ruby!

I hear from my friends who have been through this, that many people bring or make carb-loaded meals. But as we all know, traditional comfort food can be altered a little to make Mom and baby feel healthier! Instead of a heavier casserole-type dish to prepare ahead and stick in the freezer, I made a very simple type of lasagna or ratatouille. I've had a crazy busy week and needed to make something embarrassingly easy but for an expectant mother, easy is probably the ticket, even for a great pastry chef, yes? Fresh vegetables, your favorite tomato sauce, and a little goat cheese make for a refreshingly filling and light dish that can be heated up quickly and eaten during those times in between changing diapers and naps!

The party continues on the following sites with more freezer-friendly recipes:

shower shelley Summer Corn Chowder to Welcome Ruby 

Ilke from Ilke’s Kitchen
Carrie from Bakeaholic Mama
Christina from Girl Gone Grits
Elaine from   California Living  
Esra from Irmik Hanim
Jennie from Pastry Chef Online
Jennifer from Scissors and Spatulas
Lisa from Lisa Is Cooking
Renee from Sweet Sugar Bean
Robin from A Chow Life
Sarah from Snippets of Thyme
Lana from Bibberche

Goat Cheese Vegetable "Lasagna"
serves 6

1 small eggplant
1 zucchini
1 squash
1 32 oz can chunky tomato sauce (or your favorite homemade)
1 15 oz can pureed tomato sauce (or homemade)
Spices to taste
8 oz fresh goat cheese

- Preheat a broiler and spray or coat a broiler pan with olive oil. Slice each vegetable into rounds about 1/8 of an inch thick. Fit as many rounds on your broiler pan as possible, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and broil for about 8 minutes or until browning. I did each vegetable separate which worked pretty well for layering purposes. Remove the vegetables to a plate to cool slightly. Re-spray as you go.

- In the meantime, take out a 9x9 casserole dish or some other small pie-plate sized dish and spread half of the pureed sauce on the bottom. Layer your vegetable rounds in a desired fashion, spreading a healthy amount of the chunky tomato sauce and spices in between each one. Top with remaining pureed sauce to cover and place goat cheese rounds on top. Cover well with plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to one month or bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with warm, crusty bread!