Summer Vegetable Ravioli Salad

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A time saving weeknight dinner to save for the upcoming back to school nights! The simplest of recipes: frozen ravioli, steamed fresh summer vegetables, bottled pesto, and parmesan cheese. So yummy, nobody will believe that it only took minutes! Leftovers make great cold lunches too!

A time saving weeknight dinner to save for the upcoming back to school nights! The simplest of recipes: frozen ravioli, steamed fresh summer vegetables, bottled pesto, and parmesan cheese. So yummy, nobody will believe that it only took minutes! Leftovers make great cold lunches too!

 

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I have alluded to the fact that I often avoid the traditional grocery store when it comes to buying food, especially produce.  I did my time working at a grocery store after college, and as someone who has worked the back end of a produce department, I’m really not impressed.

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I started using a national produce co-op called Bountiful Baskets about five months ago.  The co-op is saving us money while encouraging us to eat more produce.  It is not local, but at least it is generally fresher and better quality than my local grocery store produce. My goal is to finish the co-op produce within the week to ensure that we’re getting enough fruits and vegetables in our diet. The co-op basket is often the inspiration for recipes that I come up with that week.

I’m not getting money for representing the co-op or anything. I just think their service is good and worth mentioning.  (Note to local readers: they normally deliver to Manhattan, but the local coordinators took a break for the summer, so I had to pick it up in Junction City the last couple of months.)

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The other night I just tossed a few of our co-op vegetables into the steamer basket and pulled some cheese ravioli out of the freezer. The entire dish only took about 3 minutes plus the amount of time it takes to boil water.  Way easy.

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So simple! So pretty!

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Sooooooo yummy!

Ingredients

  • 3 c summer vegetables, chopped. I used yellow squash, bok choy, and broccoli, but sweet potato, cauliflower, peppers, kale, spinach or other types of squash would also be yummy.
  • One bag of frozen cheese ravioli
  • 1/2 c Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Put a large pot of water on the stove on high and bring to a boil for the ravioli.
  2. Chop the vegetables.  Add an inch of water to the bottom of a medium pan with a steamer basket. Add vegetables to basket and bring to boil. Steam until desired texture is achieved.
  3. Add ravioli to boiling water and cook per package instructions or until all the ravioli begins to float.
  4. Drain ravioli and return to pan. Add steamed vegetables, cheese, pesto to pan and gently stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve immediately. Serves 4

Optional tip: spoon leftovers into small containers to use as lunches throughout the week! Leftover ravioli salad is great cold too!

Have you ever tried a meat or produce co-op before?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  The comments are open!

Vegan “Kartoffelsalat” (German Potato Salad)

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Kartoffelsalat, or German potato salad, is traditionally served warm.  Fresh dill, sautéed onion, and a hint of vinegar makes this salad delicious while still being light and nutritious. This salad is a great vegan option and dairy and egg free, perfect for any social gathering or potluck. Break free of the gelatinous supermarket potato salad, and enjoy the freshness of the ingredients that brings everyone back wanting more.

Kartoffelsalat, or German potato salad, is traditionally served warm. Fresh dill, sautéed onion, and a hint of vinegar makes this salad delicious while still being light and nutritious. This salad is a great vegan option and dairy and egg free, perfect for any social gathering or potluck. Break free of the gelatinous supermarket potato salad, and enjoy the freshness of the ingredients that brings everyone back wanting more.

One of my favorite local restaurants here in Manhattan, KS is the Little Apple Brewing Company.  They are known for their beef, and I challenge you to find a better burger than theirs.  Even if you can find a better burger (doubt it), I know you will not find a better combo than a big juicy burger and a side of German potato salad.  Ordering a side of German potato salad with a LABCO burger is how I was introduced to this amazing dish in the first place, and it’s one of my all-time favorite dinners out, which is saying a lot.

This recipe is no copycat of the LABCO German potato salad, and it doesn’t try to be.  Traditional German potato salad uses bacon and its grease, and I imagine the restaurant has no qualms including similar high fat and sodium content in their decadent side dish. Instead, this recipe is much lighter and uses no animal by-products; it’s vegan and allergy friendly!

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For some reason, I recently confidently volunteered to bring potato salad to a dinner function even though I knew some people who couldn’t eat dairy and eggs.  It wasn’t until later that I realized that all my potato salad recipes relied on ranch, sour cream, or mayo.  You know the feeling??

Yup. Gob understands.

I studied vegan potato salad recipes without finding anything that struck my fancy, mostly because I struggled to imagine a non-fried potato in any form not being paired with dairy!  (Baked potatoes without sour cream OR butter OR cheese??! Shudder!)

Inspiration came in the form of a gift from an old man at my community garden.  My garden neighbor generously offered some fresh dill that he was thinning out anyway.  Not really familiar with how to even use fresh dill, I initially took it to be polite, but the dill completely inspired this recipe.  It has never even crossed my mind to grow dill, but I really enjoyed finding ways to use it!  Now I can’t wait to get the stuff in the ground to use again!

I confess, when I made this salad, I didn’t realize until JUST before it was time to leave for dinner that I didn’t have any apple cider vinegar in the house. With no time to buy any, I tasted and eventually served the salad without the vinegar because it was SO GOOD.  I later added the vinegar on another attempt, and the result was a completely a different salad, and both versions are absolutely delicious and very enjoyable!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs yukon gold potato, cubed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Cover the potatoes in water in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Cook until completely tender. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and the onion in a skillet over a medium-high heat, stirring often, until the onion is soft and translucent.  Add vinegar to skillet and remove from heat.
  3. Pour the skillet contents over the potatoes, add the dill, and mix until distributed evenly and potatoes are slightly crushed.  Salt and pepper to taste.  German potato salad is traditionally served warm, but this salad is also yummy cold.

Extra note: Vinegar is the quintessential ingredient when making German potato salad.  However, the vinegar is optional and can be adjusted to taste.  If the hint of vinegar is not a flavor you enjoy, I would recommend only adding a couple of tablespoons or eliminating it altogether.  The salad without the vinegar is still absolutely delicious!  I can’t say it enough!

Best,

Brohgan

Savory Blackberry Basil Pizza

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The mild flavor of blackberries sings in perfect harmony when paired with mozzarella,  parmesan, and ricotta cheeses.  Green onion and fresh basil add interest to this unusual savory pizza. The soft, baked berries act as both the sauce and and as a topping, and their hint of sweetness combined with the salty and creamy cheeses and tangy green onions creates a memorable, delicious flavor. This simple pizza recipe results in complicated flavor using healthy, fresh ingredients.

Have I mentioned that we have a new baby?  A new, very cute baby who turned life, including dinnertime, upside down?

I have to say, I was stuck in a deep rut before I made this pizza.  Every meal was about what made me think the least. My creativity was nonexistent. I was in pure survival mode.

That is what life with a newborn does to you. You live completely in the moment. You walk around constantly looking like you’re in shock or in the middle of some sort of trauma.

Parenting is wonderfully rewarding, but it’s completely exhausting.

In the midst of newborn craziness, I saw this pizza on Pinterest, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I couldn’t quite inagine what it would taste like. Was it sweet? Was it savory? Was it creamy? I HAD TO MAKE IT.

It literally took weeks before I managed to accomplish my goal. So worth the wait! It’s mostly cheese and blackberry, so there is really no going wrong!  A hint of sweetness, like pineapple or sweetened tomato sauce, combined with traditional white pie toppings. All flavors I love on a pizza!

The ricotta was honestly my favorite part. And the berries. And the onion. Ok, all of it.

After having my life dictated by an infant, this pizza just felt like the most adult-like thing I had done in a long time.  And it only took less than 10 minutes to toss together.

Ingredients:

-your favorite pizza crust (I cheated and used a store bought crust because, well, remember how I mentioned that new baby earlier?)

-1 tbsp olive oil

-1 C fresh blackberries, divided

-1 C shredded parmesan

-1 C mozzarella cheese

-1/4 C chopped green onion

-2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Drizzle olive oil over your pizza crust and spread evenly using a  brush or the back of a spoon.
  3. Use a fork to mash up 1/2 C blackberries. Spread evenly over the crust. (This is the pizza sauce.) Top evenly with the parmesan and the mozzarella cheeses.
  4. Use a spoon to generously dollop on the ricotta cheese over the top. (And my mouth is watering again. This was my favorite part!)
  5. Sprinkle on remaining whole blackberries, green onions, and basil.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown.
  7. Serve immediately.

Tomatillo Ranch Chicken

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Tangy tomatillo ranch smothered over chicken and rice! While the chicken and rice are served immediately after cooking, the sauce is cold, which makes this a very enjoyable  summer dish.This creamy dish is quick and easy to make. It makes dinner time a breeze! Exactly the relief we need in this Kansas summer heat!

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This recipe provided an opportunity for self-growth. A new ingredient, and an unfamiliar flavor. Oh, I am so glad I embraced the tomatillo goodness, because the tangy ranch sauce just hit the spot!

Tomatillos are common in the Deep South. However, I was unfamiliar with this ingredient when I ordered from it as a part of my weekly produce co-op basket. I’ve never even seen the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes.”  Basically, I had no idea what to do with it.

Tomatillos are basically the flavor of a sweet lemon. Peel off the husk and rinse off the sticky film that is commonly found underneath. Handle like a tomato.


Let’s talk about the ranch seasoning, because seasoning mixes are one of my favorite things, and this ranch is certainly the most commonly used mix in my kitchen.  Powdered ranch seasoning is extremely versatile to be used on both vegan and non-vegan dishes without adding tons of unwanted extra calories or sodium.

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While fresh herbs have a better taste, this dry mix is much more convenient to have on hand.

Firstly, rub the the chicken in the ranch mix and get it into the oven.  While the chicken roasts, put together the tomatillo ranch sauce and cook the rice.

Ingredients:

-3 medium chicken breast

-1 tbsp homemade ranch mix (see ingredients below)

-1 c white rice, uncooked

-2 c water

-1 C mayo

-1/4 C milk

-2 cloves garlic

-1 C fresh cilantro

-3 medium tomatillos

-2 tbsp homemade ranch mix
Homemade Ranch Mix:

-1 tsp Black Pepper

-1 tbsp Parsley, dried

-1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder

-1/2 tbsp Onion Powder

-1 tsp Dried Dill
1. Top raw chicken with ranch mix and put in 375 degree oven for 25 minutes until fully cooked.

2. Cook rice per package directions.

3. Combine mayo, milk, garlic, cilantro, tomatillos, and 2 tbsp ranch mix in a food processor until creamy.

4. Slice chicken into strips. Spoon rice into 3-4 bowls. Top rice with chicken and sauce. Enjoy immediately.

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After I made this, I just realized a vegetarian or vegan version using this sauce could be amazing!  Unfortunately, my leftover sauce was left out, and I had to throw it out.  Someday, I will figure this out.

Tangy tomatillo ranch smothered over chicken and rice! While the chicken and rice are served immediately after cooking, the sauce is cold, which makes this a very enjoyable  summer dish.This creamy dish is quick and easy to make. It makes dinner time a breeze!