Convection Meal - Holiday Brunch
Roasted Cauliflower Soup, Roasted Butternut Squash Stew and Spicy Cheese Crackers
Since Holiday meals usually involve lots of protein rich foods, it's nice to give your digestive system a break and make some simple flavorful vegetable dishes instead. And of course it's so much easier with Convection. For this meal, I roasted cauliflower for soup and butternut squash for a simple side dish with sauteed spinach and white beans. I also made some spicy cheese crackers to serve with the soup.....easy and so delicious.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup
1 - medium head cauliflower, coarse stem removed, cut into 1” thick slices or florets
2 - cloves garlic, minced
¼ - teaspoon mixed Italian seasoning
2 - tablespoons olive oil
1 - large leek trimmed washed free of any dirt and sliced into thin rings
1 - tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter
6 - cups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
Optional - chopped chives for serving
Combine all the ingredients and spread onto a rimmed baking sheet.
Heat the oven in the Convection Roast Mode 400 - 425 degrees and roast for 20 - 25 minutes until the cauliflower begins to caramelize and is soft. Stir once during the cooking to avoid overbrowning on one side.
Meanwhile, heat a 2 qt capacity saucepan on moderate heat and add the olive oil and butter . When the butter is sizzling stir in the leeks and cook over moderate heat to soften.
Add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer.
Stir in the cooked cauliflower and simmer for 5 minutes, then puree till smooth.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Sauteed Spinach and White Beans
1 - small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1” dice
2 - tablespoons olive oil
¼ - teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of cayenne or other chili spice
1 - tablespoon olive oil
1 - small yellow onion cut into 1” dice
2 - cloves garlic, minced
1 - bunch fresh spinach, washed, dried & stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 - 14oz can cannellini or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
¼ - cup chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
Combine the butternut squash with the remaining ingredients and spread onto a rimmed baking sheet. Heat the oven in the Convection Roast Mode 400 degrees and roast for 25 - 30 minutes until the edges begin to caramelize.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet and stir in the yellow onion. Cook the onion to soften then stir in the garlic, cook for a minute then stir in the spinach and cook till wilted.
Stir in the stock and the drained white beans, cover and cook over low heat for five minutes. Gently stir in the cooked butternut squash and add salt and pepper to taste before serving.
Spicy Cheese Crackers
These crackers are very easy to make. Once combined, the batter needs to be rolled into a log and refrigerated for an hour or overnight prior to slicing and baking, so plan ahead. Since they are baked at 325 degrees Convection they can be baked before or after the vegetables are roasted. The surprise ingredient of rice krispies gives these cookies a nice crunch.
½ - cup softened butter
1 ¼ - cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 - cup all purpose flour
⅛ - teaspoon salt
¼ - teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ¼ - cups Rice Krispies
Beat the butter and cheddar cheese in a large bowl till blended.
Whisk the flour, salt and cayenne together in another bowl and gradually beat into the cheese mixture. Stir in the rice krispies, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a stiff dough.
Shape the dough into an approximately 7” long roll, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
Heat the oven Convection 325, cut the cookies into ¼” slices and place 1” apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 14 - 16 minutes until the edges are golden brow
Cauliflower Mc & Cheese
Convection Bake Mode
This delicious version of perhaps the most popular comfort food incorporates some steamed cauliflower but you could also substitute broccoli if you prefer.
3 - cups elbow pasta
2 - cups, small cauliflower or broccoli florets
3 - tablespoons butter
3 - tablespoons all purpose flour
2 - cups milk
1 - teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
1 - cup grated Jack cheese
2 - cups grated Cheddar cheese
¼ - cup fine breadcrumbs mixed with
¼ - cup grated Parmesan cheese and
2 - tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Cook the pasta in 8 cups of water with ½ teaspoon of salt, drain and rinse in cold water.
Steam the cauliflower and when cooked combine with the pasta.
Heat the butter in a small heavy saucepan, add the flour and stir to blend.
Cook for a few minutes taking care not to let the butter get too dark.
Whisk in the milk and cook over moderate heat until thickened.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese whisking until it is all blended, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Preheat the oven to Convection Bake 350 degrees (using Convection ensures even heat distribution and enables you to roast some meat or vegetables on another rack at the same time)
Mix the cheese sauce with the cooked pasta and cauliflower and pour into an oiled oven casserole dish (approx 9 x 13) cover and bake on the center rack for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the foil and sprinkle the breadcrumb, parsley, Parmesan cheese mixture over the pasta and cook for another 10 minutes until the topping has browned.
Turkey Lasagna with Zucchini Noodles, Mozzarella and Pesto
Convection or Convection Bake
I won’t kid you, Lasagna always takes work but the efforts are always worthwhile and in this version the zucchini “noodles” are easily prepared at the same time using Convection.
It takes about 10 minutes to slice the zucchini and about 20 minutes to cook and cool them.
The turkey filling takes about 40 minutes to prep and cook and while that is cooking you can assemble the other ingredients so you are ready to layer everything into the casserole for baking. Once everything is prepped, layering the lasagna into the casserole is easy.
6 - large zucchini, ends trimmed each cut lengthwise into 6 ¼” thick slices
½ - teaspoon mixed Italian seasoning
2 - tablespoons olive oil
1 - tablespoon olive oil + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 - lb ground dark turkey meat (or ground beef if you prefer)
1 - medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1” dice
3 - cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Dash of ground chili flakes if you like some spice
1 - 15oz can whole peeled tomatoes
2 - tablespoons tomato paste
1 - 15oz container Ricotta cheese
1 - 4 oz container Pesto (or ½ cup homemade)
1 ½ - lbs shredded Mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to Convection or Convection Bake 400 degrees
Lay the zucchini slices onto 2 rimmed baking sheets, sprinkle with the seasoning and drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper and cook for 15 - 20 minutes until softened, then set aside to cool.
Meanwhile heat a large heavy skillet or saute pan over moderate heat, when hot add the oil and butter and when the butter sizzles increase the heat and add the ground turkey. Break it up with a fork and cook over medium high heat until evenly browned. Turn off the heat and remove the turkey from the pan with a slotted spoon.
Return the pan to heat and over moderate heat saute the onion until softened, add the garlic and cook for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes. Cook over moderate heat breaking the tomatoes with the back of a spoon (you can use chopped tomatoes if you prefer) then stir in the tomato paste. Add the browned turkey and any accumulated juices to the pan and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Layering the Lasagna
Spoon a little of the sauce onto the bottom of an oven casserole dish and add one layer of the cooked zucchini noodles.
Add half of the turkey mixture, spread over the noodles and top with a cup of mozzarella cheese
Add another layer of noodles and spread the ricotta over the noodles, or flatten a few tablespoons between your palms and place over the noodles.
Gently spread a layer of pesto over the ricotta and top with another loosely packed cup of mozzarella and another layer of noodles
Add the remainder of the turkey, another cup of cheese and the final layer of noodles.
Spread a little more pesto over the top of the noodles and top with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese.
Preheat the oven to Convection Bake 325 degrees
Cut a sheet of foil to fit the casserole and lightly oil the non-shiny side.
Cover the casserole loosely so the foil doesn’t stick to the cheese and bake on the middle rack for 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbling, allow the casserole to stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 6 - 8
Shepherd’s Pie with Seitan
Another dish on the list of popular comfort foods, this version from Susanne Jensen will show you just how delicious a plant based version of this dish can be. If you don’t have a big group to feed you can easily portion this casserole into smaller portions and freeze some for later use.
2 - tablespoons oil
1 - yellow onion, diced
3 - cloves garlic, minced
1 - teaspoon thyme
2 - carrots, finely diced
1 - rutabaga, finely dice
1 - pound seitan, ground in a food processor or meat grinder
2 - tablespoons tomato paste
1 - tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ - teaspoons salt ¼ t- easpoon pepper
2 - cups water mixed with 2 tablespoons vegetable powder
1 - tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2-3 tablespoons cold - water ½ - cup fresh or frozen peas
3 - large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1. Heat oil in a frying pan and add onion and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes.
2. Add rutabaga and carrot and sauté for another 3-4 minutes.
3. Add thyme, seitan, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, water with vegetable powder and cook for 6-8 minutes.
4. Add dissolved cornstarch and cook until vegetable seitan mixture has slightly thickened, approximately 1 minute.
5. Stir in peas.
6. Meanwhile steam the potatoes in 1 cup of water over moderate heat until very tender. Mash with some butter and milk until creamy.
7. Assemble shepherd’s pie by adding vegetables to a baking pan and cover with mashed potatoes.
8. When ready to serve, preheat the oven in the Convection Bake Mode 400 degrees and bake uncovered for 20 minutes until the potatoes begin to brown (40 minutes if the casserole has been refrigerated.)
Serves 6 - 8
Roast Leg of Lamb with Roasted Ratatouille
Ratatouille is a flavorful vegetable stew from Southern France that combines a bounty of summer vegetables, eggplant, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes. Typically it is cooked in a heavy casserole on the cooktop but the vegetables can also be combined and roasted in the oven for an easy Convection Meal. Ratatouille combines well with roast chicken, oven baked polenta and our favorite roast lamb and can even be served over pasta or grains.
To coordinate the cooking plan on the following timing.
Lamb - 1 hr 25 minutes including 10 - 15 minutes for resting and carving.
Ratatouille - 40 - 50 minutes
Roast Leg of Lamb
1 semi boneless leg of lamb, approx 4 - 5lbs
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp, finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp olive oil
Begin by seasoning the lamb and letting it sit overnight in the refrigerator. First give the lamb a generous sprinkle of Kosher salt, then combine the rosemary, garlic and oil and rub it all over the meat. Cover loosely with a sheet of wax paper and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. And be sure to let it sit outside of the refrigerator for at least an hour prior to cooking.
Organize the oven racks to accommodate the roast and the tray of ratatouille underneath.
Heat the oven in the Convection Roast or Convection Bake Mode 325 ℉.
Place the lamb on a rack in a shallow pan. And if your oven has a meat probe insert the sensor into the meat on the diagonal, taking care not to touch any bone.
Slide the lamb into the oven and activate the meat probe function then program to the desired internal temperature. Remember the internal temperature will rise as the meat rests so if you like your lamb medium rare, select an internal temperature of 125 - 130 degrees.
When the lamb has cooked for at least 45 - 50 minutes, slide the tray with the ratatouille into the oven.
3 shallots, peeled and cut in half
10 cloves garlic, peeled
2 small Italian eggplant or 1 Italian and 1 Fairy Tale eggplant, cut into 1 ½” chunks
3 large zucchini, cut into 1 ½” chunks
2 large peppers, yellow and orange are nice for the color, peeled, seeds removed, cut into
1 ½” pieces ( a Y shaped vegetable peeler does a good job of removing the peel)
¼ cup olive oil
1 level tsp herbs de Provence
4 medium roma tomatoes, cut into quarters (these are added later)
Combine the shallots, garlic, eggplant, zucchini and peppers in a large shallow mixing bowl.
Season with a sprinkle of Kosher salt and the herbs, add enough of the olive oil to coat the vegetables evenly then spread onto a rimmed baking sheet. The vegetables will shrink a fair bit during the cooking so it’s best if they are fairly crowded on the tray.
When the lamb has cooked for 45 - 50 minutes, add the tray of ratatouille into the lower part of the oven. Remove the lamb when the meat probe indicates it has reached the desired internal temperature and set aside to rest. Carefully combine the tomatoes with the other ratatouille vegetables and reprogram the oven to finish cooking the vegetables in the Convection Roast or Convection Bake Mode,400℉ and set the timer for 25 minutes.