Vegging Out

If we don’t have any plans on a weekend, Jamey and I usually use our time to take care of errands and do a fair amount of shopping. This often involves multiple trips to the grocery store. On the weekends, we tend to cook long, lingering meals that require an early start time (see: sous vide or smoker), leaving us with the rest of the day to do what we want. We’ll then pull out the cooked food when we’re ready to eat that evening.

One of my favorite Saturday rituals is to visit The Vegetable Bin. Sadly, Jamey and I can never make it here other nights of the week due to our commute, so it’s the only day we can stock up on our favorite cheap, local veggies and fruits. We were able to make it up there this past Saturday after our day of house hunting and other things, and picked up a few edibles that fit just perfectly with the Sunday night dinner I was envisioning.

Fruits and veggies from the Vegetable Bin, artistically portrayed.

Sunday morning, we had discussed the idea of putting a pork butt into the smoker. Unfortunately it did not thaw in time, so back into the freezer it went until we can devote a weekend to its cooking. Instead, burgers popped into Jamey’s head, so our menu began to unfold.

I wanted to make something special to accompany Jamey’s meat of choice. We used boxed potatoes au gratin last week for a side (I know…but it was easy, cheap, and a special request from the man himself – I shall make them from scratch next time!) so this round I wanted to be a little bit healthier. Turns out the internet is full of au gratin ideas – many of them very veggie-centric. I found this recipe for tomatoes, zucchini, squash and onion gratin, and pretty much followed it to a T. Hers looks a lot more cheese-heavy in the pictures, unlike mine. I’m not sure if that’s because I used a wider, less deep dish, but either way it was still delicious. She has a whole slew of veggie ideas that I suggest you check out, since I am sure I’ll be referring back to many again from her blog.

While Jamey’s burgers stewed, I chopped up the tomatoes, zucchini, squash, mixed in some caramelized onions and garlic before shaking on the parmesan. Even in raw form, I love how it has that made-from-scratch appeal – but it was so easy!

An extra sprinkle of parmesan is necessary before entering the oven.

About an hour later, these lovelies sidled up nicely next to Jamey’s sous vide burgers, which he topped off with a smoked cheddar cheese. It was the perfect summer meal for a Sunday send-off; I can most definitely enter this work week on a high note, thanks to this delicious, locally-derived meal.

A little dark, but hopefully this glimpse of the veggies alone will have our mouth watering.

Even though it wasn’t true to a real gratin dish, I’m still inspired to try variations of this side with different veggies and cheeses. Already, I’ve started thinking about what kind of fun side vegetables would be good for this come fall: acorn squash, eggplant, carrots, maybe even some fennel. I think we’ve started on something that might certainly become a staple in the Monahanski diet, and for that alone I can’t wait to get up to the Vegetable Bin again soon to see what other kinds of vegetable dishes we can come up with.

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