Lately I’ve been raiding Mark’s stash of corn chips when I go looking for a snack. They’re about the only thing we ever have in the house that are not sweet and require absolutely no preparation.
That’s the funny thing about my house, it’s always full of food but apart from fresh fruit there’s almost nothing that can just be eaten as is and sometimes I want to eat something now. I was hoping seasoned dehydrated veggies could become a new-found version of chips; a salty snack ready to eat straight from the container, but I think I’m going to have to keep looking. Not that the dehydrated zucchini I made the other day are bad, they just lack the satisfying crunch of chips.
Making them was, however, a good learning experience. I got started early and had the thinly sliced, lightly seasoned zucchini ready to go as soon as the sun hit the back yard. By the last rays of the day they were dehydrated to perfection. I’d seasoned them with garlic powder, dried basil, and salt. The flavor was good, and I did manage to stay away from the bag of chips in the pantry, but I think they’d be better as an ingredient in risottos or soups than on their own. I guess I’ll have to find something else to deal with the mid-afternoon hunger pangs.
Eggplant is one of those vegetables that somehow manage to hide in my refrigerator until it’s time to use it or lose it. This versatile recipe is perfect for rescuing the ones I catch in time. It can be used as a spread on crackers, a dip for pita chips, or as a layer in lasagna. It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Solar Roasted Eggplant Spread
1 medium eggplant
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 sun dried tomatoes
Set Global Sun Oven out to preheat
Cut the eggplant, bell peppers, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them with the oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Spread them on a large, rimmed baking pan. Cook, uncovered, in the Sun Oven until the vegetables are soft, about 1 1/2 hours.
While the vegetables are cooking soak the sun dried tomatoes in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze out excess water.
Remove vegetables from the Sun Oven and cool slightly. Put the vegetables and the sun dried tomatoes in a food processor and pulse until blended. Adjust for salt and pepper.
These beans make a great side dish on their own, but be sure to set some aside (and save the cooking liquid) for a delicious soup later in the week. If you can’t find cannellini, any white bean will do. Same goes for the greens, curly kale can be substituted for the Tuscan.
Solar Simmered Cannellini with Kale
If you’ve been following this blog you have probably realized by now that I am not a solar cooking purist. Sometimes for fun I like to do all the steps of a recipe in the Sun Oven and it’s nice to know it the back of my mind that things like sauteing and steaming can be done in it if necessary, but for my everyday cooking I usually choose the cooking method based on convenience and results. I cook the green beans for this savory pie the way I learned in Italy, because I think they taste better, and since the potatoes cook while I’m preparing the beans I boil them inside too. Once the pie is assembled it goes in to the Sun Oven to bake.
Solar Green Bean and Potato Pie (adapted from ‘Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’ by Marcella Hazan)
Oven roasted garlic is delicious and the Global Sun Oven does a great job of bringing out its sweet and mellow flavor. Serve this garlicky dip with vegetable crudités and toasted French bread. The recipe calls for canned beans, but dry beans that have been cooked ahead of time work just as well.
Solar Garlic White Bean Dip
3 (15 oz cans) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Place Global Sun Oven out to preheat
Combine beans, water, cheese, garlic, oil, sage, oregano, salt, and pepper in a 5 to 6 quart pot. Cover and cook in GSO until garlic is browned, about 1 hour.
Add lemon juice and zest; coarsely mash with a potato masher until all the ingredients are blended. If mixture is too dry add warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it becomes thick and spreadable.