Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stick your vegetables in something cheesy!

There has been a recent influx of cookbooks designed to take healthy vegetables and disguise them in everyday meals. Jessica Seinfeld, wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, recently wrote a cookbook entitled Deceptively Delicious. From the Publisher: Deceptively Delicious has all of Jessica's winning combinations, including cauliflower in mac and cheese and spinach in brownies.

Forgive me, but WHAT THE FUCK?! If someone tries to feed me a brownie with spinach in it, I will punch them in the face! I definitely do not agree with this method of cooking because I think it could cause more harm them good - if a child isn't given the opportunity to try new tastes, that kid is going to grow up into an insufferably picky adult!

(Have you ever been to a restaurant with a person who hates everything except chicken nuggets? It makes me want to scratch my eyes out, and I am not even an adventurous eater! "Can you omit the onions?" WHOA lady!!!! No! Just stop already!)

I cook and bake regularly with my niece Kelsey and nephew Shakeer - avid readers will remember our forray into Christmas cookies. I found that if they participate in the food prep, they are more likely to eat something new...plus, they love to help out in the kitchen. Banning children from the kitchen can make things easier, but you are seriously missing out on a great experience, as well as the opportunity to teach them about good nutrition.

That being said - I totally found a recipe that hid a great deal of perfectly tasty vegetables under a melting mound of delicious cheese! I'm such a hypocrite!


12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 (15 oz.) containers of ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 (1 lb) bag of frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup fresh basil
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 cups mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
2 jars of marinated artichokes, drained
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush a 13x9x2 baking dish with oil, and set aside. In a small bowl, combine drained artichokes, 1/2 cup of cream and basil. Set aside. In a large blender or food processor, combine peas, ricotta, parmesan cheese, 1 cup of whipping cream, salt and pepper and 2 eggs. (I had to do this in 2 batches.)

Pour 1 cup of ricotta mixture in the bottom of the baking dish. Layer 4 lasanga noodles, then 1/2 of artichoke mixutre, then 1/3 of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Repeat process with second layer.

For the last layer - 4 additional noodles, rest of ricotta mixture and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 25 minutes or until cheese has browned slightly, and is bubbly around the edges. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Yes, it's a little time consuming - but the reward is this sweet and creamy, yet tangy combination of flavors. I never even missed the tomato sauce! The bottom layer of noodles almost becomes this crust of sorts - anchoring the whole dish. Plus, just look at the color of the layers...it's quite eye catching, and everyone knows, you eat with your eyes first.

I ate the leftovers for 3 days!


Brenda Bradshaw said...

Damn that looks good. I know better than to read your blog when I'm hungry yet here I am doing it anyway.

Does it have a taste similar to hot artichoke dip? It looks like it may, and I LOVE hot atichoke dip.

MommyK said...

I looked at Jessica Seinfeld's book at the bookstore and it actually looks pretty good. I've been hiding vegetables in food for my kid for a long time, I just don't do purees. He won't touch carrots, but he'll eat them if I finely chop them and put them in meatloaf. I put zuchinni in veggie soup for myself because I hate it in any other form. And risotto is the perfect texture for hiding things in. Seinfeld is pretty clear that this is not intended to be an alternative to offering veggies and teaching about healthy eating, but rather a little extra something to ensure that picky eaters get the nutrients they need. I still serve green beans and broccoli alongside my beefed up meatloaf, but can rest easy knowing that he's had some nutrition if he chooses not to eat the beans or broccoli.

I think this book is a great alternative for kids who have health issues. Let's face it, not all adults are comfortable in the kitchen and don't know very much about healthy cooking or eating. Moms have been sneaking vegetables to their kids for ages now. This book is just a way to help those who don't know how to do it on their own.

Rhonda said...

I wish I had you to cook for me!

I also wish someone could sneak veggies into my diet without me knowing!


Ha---that cracks me up! It kills me how Jessica Seinfeld's book was a best seller before it was even released. Apparently, some other woman basically wrote a book with the same exact concept and where is she??? Not on Oprah, like good ol' Jessie, that's for sure.
I have 2 small kids and they cook with me all the time (AND eat actual veggies). When they have a hand in creating it---they eat it. I taught a class (I'm a cooking instructor) to 11 seven year old cub scouts this week and after a chorus of "ewwww"S whenI said we were making chili----they all ended up LOVING it, because they made it.
We have to stop the chicken nugget madness and give these kids some REAL food! No wonder American kids are so obese.