For the past week or so, I’ve been totally UNmotivated to cook. I have no, nor can I find any inspiration for creative cooking in my kitchen. I’m just running on empty. Completely empty. I even have a bunch of beautiful produce in the fridge and my pantry is completely stocked. My mojo has run out which is really weird. Because on any “normal” day I’ve already begun planning out dinner before I’ve finished eating breakfast. And when I get home from work, I’m stoked to get into my zone in the kitchen.
Just not lately. Truly, the last couple of days have been pretty bad (ask Dario). I’ve just been standing in the kitchen and staring, hoping some genius idea pops into my head (this is usually followed by a plea to go out to dinner instead). However, the only thing that’s popped out of my kitchen lately was a salad with a creamy avocado dressing…which Dario politely mentioned tasted somewhat like paint primer.
Oh well. I think I redeemed myself by making the above delicious vegetable fritto misto platter. The idea came from my obvious laziness to make anything substantial for dinner and me drooling over a Maggiano’s commercial on TV. Guess in some cases this is a good combination. This is a perfect dish to make when you don’t know what to cook or just have an intense craving for Maggiano’s fried zucchini. Either works. But it’s basically just a giant plate of lightly fried veggies and some sort of protein – lots of times squid or other seafood.
I choose to use only veggies since that’s all I had in my house. In addition, I decided to bake all of the veggies instead of frying them. Totally saves a huge mess of splattering hot oil all over my stove. Not mention it saves a crap ton of calories too! I also added in some local-made ravioli for an unexpected twist. They were crunchy on the outside and all gooey and cheesy on the inside. So good! The best part of this dish (besides cheesy ravioli) was that it was more or less guilt free. Baked eggplant sticks and zucchini coins covered in whole wheat bread crumbs and baked in the oven? That definitely equals guilt free to me!
- 1 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4″ coins
- 1 small eggplant cut into 1/2″ sticks
- 1 lb ravioli, filling of your choice
- 2 cups whole wheat panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup regular plain bread crumbs
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 3 tbsp dried oregano (or other favorite spice blend)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 cup homemade marinara sauce (or other favorite sauce), warmed
- Lemon wedges, additional grated parmesan cheese or red pepper flakes optional
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Set out 3 separate flat bottom bowls or baking dishes. Add the flour and 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to one dish. Add eggs and water to another dish, scramble to combine. In the third dish add in both bread crumbs, grated cheese, oregano and 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper.
- Prepare a large sheet pan or baking pan with parchment, cooking spray or a silpat. Working in small batches first coat vegetables or ravioli in flour. Then move to egg and thoroughly coat. Finally transfer items into breadcrumb mixture. Press down lightly to ensure a thick coating of breadcrumbs sticks to the vegetables or ravioli.
- Place on sheet pan – there’s no need to leave much room between the vegetables. Lightly spray with olive oil or non fat cooking spray.
- Bake at 425 for about 20-25 minutes. As many oven temperatures differ, monitor vegetables to make sure they do not burn. Vegetables should turn golden brown and the breadcrumbs toasted and crunchy.
- Serve immediately with lemon wedges and marinara sauce.
You tell me! What’s your favorite unhealthy food turned healthy? What do you do when you’re stuck in a cooking rut? Where do you get cooking inspiration?