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I have serious fear of consuming mold. Serious. Fear.

Therefore, expiration dates are somewhat of a beacon for me in the kitchen. Just ask my former roomie (The Marine’s Wife) who would watch me comb labels on breads and bags of veggies for that ever hard to find expiration date.

For most people, it’s a suggestion. For me, it’s a hard and fast rule.

Some Most people think, “Oh, just a few days past. Still smells good. I’ll eat it.” I think. “This is straight up poison and should be contained in a large metal can with a secure lid. Like in this trash can here.”

But I try not be dramatic about it.

This brings me to last night, when I noticed that most of the veggies I purchased last week were nearing their beloved end. Something needed to happen. And fast.

Enter, a Vegetable Tian.

OR, as I like to call it, a dish of various vegetables baked in the oven …made gorgeous by the halo of cheese that melts on top.

I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot of layering and all the pictures I have seen of tians look so pretty. So I was questioning if I had the ability to re-create this beauty.

But it made the whole house smell incredible and my man and I owned it…the whole dish. Gone. I am so glad I stepped out. And I am even more grateful that our veggies were put to a good and most beautiful use.

Here we go:

I used Ina Gartin’s recipe for Vegetable Tian because hers called for everything I had:

  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Grueyer Cheese
  • Garlic

Slice up two yellow onions and sauté them on medium heat for about 10 minutes (until they are translucent and all sexy looking).

Sexy onions. And they know it.

Sexy onions. And they know it.

While those are cooking slice up those “nearing the end” veggies. I used two zucchinis and two potatoes.

Here lies veggies that were knocking on death's door. I rescued them...well...kind of. Depends on your take on the word "rescue."

Here lies veggies that were knocking on death’s door. I rescued them…well…kind of. Depends on your take on the word “rescue.”

I also sliced up two tomatoes that were on the verge of squishy-ness. That is a technical culinary term.

Once the onions are sauteed add 2 minced garlic cloves. Or, if you have an addiction to garlic, use three, like me. Saute for one minute more (but not too long or you’ll burn your garlic and garlic doesn’t deserve to be treated that way).

Then spoon all that onion, garlic goodness in the bottom of a round casserole dish.

Now it’s time to layer. I was not too excited about the layering – who has time to layer? I was able to overcome this by playing some music. Maybe some Kanye music…maybe there was a dance party? Maybe the secret to not being bothered by layering is dancing?! I submit so!

See, she is so pretty. And in reality, it probably took me like 3 minutes of focused layering.

Yes, these veggies are spooning.

Yes, these veggies are spooning.

I just started with a potato and then two zucchinis side by side (they’re such little guys) and then a tomato. Ina’s recipe just said “layer” but I am here to tell you that you need to fit them pretty close together to fit them all. And I just started from the outside and worked my way in.

NOW. NOW for my absolute favorite ingredient. I never really knew the power of fresh herbs until I started cooking. I mean, I always liked them. They sure do make a dish all pretty. But, wow, they are almost always the star of my dishes. I don’t have an herb garden (due to lack of backyard) but it is on the top of my list.

Chop up some fresh Thyme. Chop! Chop! Chop! Do not have a dance party while chopping. There are too many fingers at stake.

I am currently taking donations for a manicure. Kidding 🙂 Kind of…

Now, sprinkle generous portions of cracked black pepper, salt, a drizzle of olive oil and your chopped Thyme over the veggies. Now she’s ready to go into the oven.

Put me in the oven!

Put me in the oven!

But where? Where is the cheese? I know. I promised you cheese. But, if you want to keep this dish Paleo, this is all you will be adding. It will still be yummy.

Cover the dish with foil and put it in the oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.

NOW, if you’re like “um, it’s totally my cheat meal” like we were 🙂 then you must add fresh grated Gruyere cheese.

Pull the dish out after 35 minutes. Remove the foil. Sprinkle on the cheese. And pop her back in, uncovered, for another 30 minutes until the cheese is all brown and bubbly.

Viola. Enjoy.

Those wine glasses are props...or something like that.

Those wine glasses are props…or something like that.

Just for clarity, I didn’t write this post to expose some amazing recipe that I did not create (although it is amazing and you should try it). I wrote it for all my fellow comrades out there who want to know what to do with expiring veggies. Follow Ina’s recipe here.

Note: You will feel all warm and wonderful inside because you did not have to throw out your expired veggies. This is a normal feeling. Also, you will feel extra wonderful because you did not have to breakout your hazmat suit to dispose of your expired veggies 🙂

Also, as long as we’re giving out tips. My younger, brilliant sister (studying to be a Doctor…I didn’t get that gene) told me this morning that a hazmat suit should also be worn when entering a hot tub. Something about hot tub folliculitis. Note to self: do not talk to sister while she is studying. Or why I am trying to enjoy my coffee and breakfast. Or if I ever want to live without consistent multiple gag reflexes in a row. Just don’t.