Recently, I had one of the most delicious dinners I’ve eaten in a long time, surprisingly at a hotel’s restaurant while attending a conference. It was a vegetarian meal consisting of grilled vegetables on top of grilled ricotta cheese with pesto, a spicy mayonnaise, and a balsamic glaze drizzled over it.
I decided to try to re-create it, at home, with a few of my own twists to it. It only takes about a half hour to make and is a great dinner choice if you’re trying to lose a few pounds, or simply add more vegetables to your diet. It’s also gluten-free.
* A Variety of Fresh Vegetables, sliced, such as zucchini, eggplant, red onion, yellow squash, mushrooms…choose what you like! (For two people, I used 1 zucchini, 1 red onion, 1 yellow squash, 1 Italian eggplant, and 1 red pepper)
* Grape Tomatoes (1 pint), cut into halves
* Ricotta Cheese, Whole Milk (1 cup)
* Prepared Pesto Sauce (optional)
* Salt, Dried Garlic, Pepper
* Balsamic Vinaigrette with Basil (I use a dipping oil made with balsamic, basil, and olive oil…find what you can)
* Olive Oil
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Slice vegetables. I cut the zucchini and squash, lengthwise, into strips about 1/2 inch wide, and 3-4 inches long.
3. Place vegetables onto a baking sheet with sides (to prevent dripping). Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle a little salt.
4. Bake for 25 minutes.
5. While the vegetables are baking, place ricotta cheese into a crock or oven-safe bowl. Sprinkle with dried garlic and salt (I use a seasoned garlic). Place in oven when there is 15 minutes remaining on vegetables.
6. Saute´ tomatoes with olive oil. Set aside.
7. Using same pan (need to reduce dishes, right?), add balsamic vinegrette and some olive oil. Heat to a boil, then reduce heat, stir a few minutes until mixture is a little thicker (you may not notice a big difference, depending on what brand you use. That’s OK).
8. Remove ricotta from oven and place on a plate. Add the tomatoes.
9. Remove vegetables from the oven. Place on top of tomatoes and cheese. Drizzle heated (reduced) balsamic vinaigrette and add a side of heated pesto for dipping, if desired (I heat mine for 30 seconds in the microwave).
10. Enjoy a healthy vegetarian, gluten-free meal!
Note: If you are watching your weight, enjoy this satisfying meal, as is. If you’re simply trying to add some more vegetarian meals or vegetables to your diet, add some bread or polenta to make a more complete meal.