Since the 1970’s, we have prepared hundreds (if not thousands!) of meals here at the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod, and at our mission house, Villa Via Sacra, in Barga, Italy. We believe that food nourishes body, soul, and spirit, and that even the simplest meal, prepared with love, can change your life. At the heart of our call to kitchen and table lie the words of Saint Benedict: “Welcome all as Christ.” This premise has led us on many culinary adventures, which we now gladly share with you!
One beautiful June day, our guests wanted to eat lunch on the patio, and something simple and summery seemed appropriate. I decided on a chicken salad plate featuring chilled zucchini soup. With fresh dill and a small dollop of sour cream, it was a real hit!
- Cut up onion and zucchini into random size chunks and simmer in chicken or vegetable broth, enough to cover, until very soft and tender
- Cool for a few minutes, then place in blender with 2 Tablespoons of sour cream and blend until well mixed, adding more sour cream if desired
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Refrigerate until well chilled; serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with dill
For years, I just naturally began preparing many meals by chopping and sautéing together a combination of onions,celery and carrots. I never realized, in those teenage years, that I was employing a basic cooking technique, producing what is often referred to in the culinary world as the “All powerful Culinary Trio.” This homey trio of ingredients is absolutely essential for flavorful soups, sauces and gravies.
Recently, I added chopped potatoes to the mixture and that, along with a serving of fresh spinach and several succulent slices of roast lamb (excellent in the Spring) resulted in a most flavorful and satisfying meal. You might want to give it a try.
“All Powerful Culinary Trio” otherwise known as Mirepoix
Mirepoix can be used in a variety of ways—namely in stocks and sauces. To make a stock (chicken, beef, fish, lamb, etc.) one pound of Mirepoix will season roughly one gallon of liquid.
This week we continue with vegetarian recommendations, and this one is gluten free as well. Recently we had the pleasure of hosting a good friend of ours from “Across the Pond.” While our guest was not strictly vegetarian, we planned meals that were loaded with fresh produce and light on meat–and this vegetarian Frittata fit the bill!
Loaded with sauteed vegetables including a fistful of baby spinach, this dish is as versatile as you need it to be, easily adaptable for the breakfast, lunch or brunch table. A mini cast iron pan worked well as an individual serving and looked light-as-air still hot from the oven. Topped with cheese and garden chive, this just might make another appearance on our guest table this spring and summer!
- Preheat broiler and heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet*
- Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the bell pepper and zucchini cooking until tender.
- Add spinach and stir until just wilted.
- Whisk together the eggs and egg whites, adding the salt and pepper and pour into the pan with the vegetables.
- Reduce heat and stir until vegetables and eggs are combined. Keep over heat until the egg has set on the bottom, about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle with cheese and remove the pan from the heat and finish under the broiler. Cook under the broiler until the cheese melts and begins to bubble.
- Garnish with fresh chive and serve immediately.
Get creative! Not only can this dish feature at breakfast, lunch and brunch, you can add or substitute other vegetables such as mushrooms and tomatoes and fresh herbs.
*We used a mini 6" cast iron pan in our preparation. If serving more people, a 10" skillet works well.