Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Dearth of Vegetables ...

As decadent as that BBQ lunch was on Friday, I must say that I did rather well diet-wise while away. Or, at least I did as well as can be expected. I love to travel, but part of me always wishes I could take my kitchen with me - or at least my fridge. Eating every meal out wears on one's sense of control and no matter how hard I try I can never seem to fit in all the vegetables I typically consume when dining at home.

Take for example, my lunch on Thursday. I had spent the morning walking around the NASA Space and Rocket Center located just behind our hotel. (Hence the picture of the Saturn rocket above.) Then returned to the hotel for a quick lunch before spending the rest of the afternoon poolside. I ordered a cup of white chicken chili and a side salad. While both were surprisingly good for hotel fare, the salad was minuscule. Honestly, it was so tiny it seemed like something more fit to be served in a doll house. I should have taken a picture of it. The last time I had a salad this small, we were dining at the now defunct March (of Wayne Nish fame) and the bill was heart-stoppingly large. Fortunately, my tiny little hotel lunch didn't set me back much ... but it didn't exactly fill me up either.

And dinner that night, such as it was, hardly served to improve my veggie content for the day. Invariably, when I return from a trip, I find myself craving a giant, fresh salad, packed to the rim with as many vegetables as I can find. I did make that salad and along with it I decided on an old and easy favorite: kielbasa stir-fry. Now, this meal isn't going to win any prizes for innovation or presentation to be sure. But it is tasty and full of fresh veggies. Its what I like to call a "charming cheat." Cheat as in I'm using a processed product, Hillshire Farm's Turkey Kielbasa, which is rather uncommon for me - yet perfect for a quick week night meal. We don't have it often, but its a treat when we do.

This meal will cook up quickly and you should feel free to use whatever vegetables and or spices you prefer. I consider the green peppers and zucchini a "must do," but your miliage may vary, of course. In pre-Beach times I would serve this over a mass of No Yolks noodles - and still do for the husband. For those on the Beach you can easily skip the noodles or use some form of whole wheat pasta instead. Lastly, the turkey kielbasa does contain a bit of sugar, so if you're being 100% strict take that into consideration and subsitute some other form of protein. I think its fine as an occaisional indulgence but, like most processed foods, would not recommend it for routine consumption.

Turkey Kielbasa Stir-Fry:

  • 1 pkg. Hillshire Farm's Turkey Kielbasa
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 of a large Vidalia onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium to large zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. dried summer savory
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • some cooked whole wheat pasta or No Yolks noodles
Slice the kielbasa into 1/2 inch thick rounds and reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add the green peppers, onion and carrots and saute, stirring as necessary, until the peppers just begin to soften. Add the garlic and saute for one minute. Add the sliced kielbasa to the pan and let the mixture saute, stirring frequently, until the kielbasa begins to brown.

Add the sliced zucchini, crushed red pepper flakes, savory and oregano and stir to combine. Add in 1/2 cup of the chicken broth, reduce the heat to medium and let the mixture cook, stirring as needed until the zucchini begins to soften adding more chicken broth as needed or desired.

At this point, the amount of additional cooking time is up to you. If you like your zucchini on the crisp side, just give it a minute or two. If you prefer it to soften, continue cooking until it has reached the desired consistency. The same goes for the broth - add more if you'd like the stir-fry to be on the saucy side, less if you prefer it dry.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding some salt and freshly ground black pepper if desired. Serve the stir-fry over the pasta or noodles and garnish with the Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Here's the finished product. As written, this recipe will serve four - but amounts can easily be increased as needed. I hope you'll try it.

So, what's your favorite quick and easy "go to" dish? Hungry Diva wants to know!


Michele said...

Funny...I haven't had kielbasa since I moved away from Cleveland 2 years ago. I think that it was the city's official meat. I used to make something very close to this with yellow squash, onions and green beans. I have a package of cilantro sausages in the freezer that need to be used before the freezer gremlins get to them. This would be a perfect recipe to use them.
Hope you enjoyed your salad! What is it with veggie selections and portions at restaurants? Wouldn't they save themselves a lot of money by putting extra veg on our plates?

Deb said...

I love to make a quick very lean burger with grilled onions and a side salad of tomato, onion and cucumber with a very simple balsamic pour over it. Fast and good.


Kitty Cat said...

Just reading through your posts makes me hungry! Arrr, no! Quick 'n easy for me is pasta with anything I've got in the fridge and an instant sauce!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Michele - the cilantro sausages sound really great and they'd work perfectly in this one. I totally agree about the restaurant veggie portions. Its crazy.

Sounds really yummy, Deb. I love a homemade balsamic dressing. Do you put shallots in yours?

Hehe, kitty cat ... sometimes my posts make *me* hungry too! LOL

Deb said...

Sometimes, others I grate garlic and once in a while I'm really lazy and just use balsamic!