You know me- unless we’re talking about baked goods (we’re not), I just can’t follow a recipe; not even a good one… And most of the time, it works out in my favor.
This is one of those times.
While doing my regular, run-of-the-mill grocery shopping this week, I grabbed some eggplant and yellow zucchini. Perhaps I was inclined to do so because the only thing our garden yielded this year was basil, but hey, who knows.
Of course, I didn’t actually plan on what I was going to make with these vegetables.
Naturally, I typed the words ‘eggplant’ and ‘zucchini’ into Pinterest and up popped several yummy looking recipes.
I wasn’t in the mood for anything coated in bread crumbs- be it fried or baked; and then I stumbled upon THIS delightfully tempting recipe.
Though eggplant is hearty enough to stand alone without meat, my marathon running husband would not be satisfied without a substantial amount of protein at dinner time, so I added some chopped up chicken breast tenderloins (which I cooked in a slow cooker to keep this simple recipe, well… simple).
Then there’s me: my pregnant and indulgent self wouldn’t be satisfied without some sort of grain-y, carb-like side to pair all those veggies with. I went with a pre-seasoned 5 minute couscous (Near East brand; roasted garlic + olive oil) to keep things simple and quick; but you could substitute quinoa, rice, potatoes, pasta, or nothing at all if you so choose. That’s what I love about cooking. You can make just about anything your own!
Lastly- I used dried parsley instead of fresh because it’s what I had (but stuck with the formentioned fresh basil since I have an abundance of the herb), and I added balsamic vinegar because I thought it would add another level of flavor.
Oh! I also decreased the garlic by an entire clove; the author of the original recipe mentions it’s quite heavy on the garlic flavor, and garlic tends to stick with me longer than it does most people (not to mention it makes me slightly nauseous after the eating while pregnant, so there’s that as well).
Here’s my complete, modified version of the recipe, though I highly suggest mixing it up and making it your own!
Summer Veggie Bake
- 5-6 small chicken breast tenderloins
- 2 medium yellow zucchini
- 1 large eggplant
- 1.5 cups grape tomatoes
- 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 small garlic cloves, minced
- 2/3 cup grated parmasen cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Cook frozen chicken in crockpot on high for 2 hours, or less if thawed. I lightly seasoned mine with a squeeze of lemon juice, olive oil, and salt/pepper. There’s no hard and fast rule on this part. Don’t worry if it’s not completely cooked- it will finish off in the oven later. Remove and chop into 1 inch pieces.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and coat a large baking dish with olive oil (I used Corningware).
- Cut zucchini and eggplant into roughly 1 inch pieces and put into a large mixing bowl.
- Halve tomatoes lengthwise (no reason for lengthwise- I just think it’s prettier!), add to bowl.
- Add basil, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese to the bowl. Toss.
- Add chicken to the bowl and toss (I saved the chicken for last because I want the veggies to absorb most of the flavor first!)
- Pour into baking dish and bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Cover with foil and bake an additional 10-20 minutes. (I went with 15!)
- Follow cooking directions for couscous or other side while dish is baking.
- Remove veggie bake from oven, uncover, and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.