Now that I’ve spent the last few weeks playing at being the devil. Tempting you. Luring you. Cajoling you into straying from your 10 in 10 or Weight Watchers or Atkins or whatever other diet/health revolution plan you’ve put yourself on (and you thought I was kidding about that Apple Strudel Bread being the real reason for Adam and Eve’s Fall. But I was there. Firsthand. Aiding and abetting.)
I’ve decided to atone for my sins. At least temporarily (i.e. for this post. Maybe for the next one. But after that it’s Valentine’s Day. And, what do you know! A little birdie told me that calories don’t count on Valentine’s Day. And by little birdie I mean venomous snake. Who has an uncanny resemblance to a certain reptile from a certain creation story that I may or may not have had an active role in precipitating. Eh, seems like a valid nutrition expert to me!)
Anyway. This dish? Is one that you can eat.
At just around 400 calories a serving it is chock full of all sorts of good-for-you ingredients. Like bell peppers. Zucchini. And barley. While simultaneously containing. 1 POUND. Of ricotta. Part-skim ricotta. But ricotta nonetheless. (Got calcium?)
In short. It is creamy and delicious. You won’t even know you’re eating something healthy. Until, after a week of this, your skinny jeans start to fit again. At which point you can come back here and thank me. I’ll be waiting.
Cheesy Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Barley Bake
Serves 4, adapted from Seasonal Ontario
2/3 cup barley
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
2 medium zucchini
3 red bell peppers
1 chili pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 lb part-skim ricotta
1/4 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese
1. Cook the barley in the water and salt until tender. You can either use a rice cooker (what I did) or cook it on the stove.
2. Preheat the oven to 350. Wash the zucchini and cut it into thick slices. Cut these in half. Wash the peppers, core them, and cut them into small dice. Mince the chili pepper.
3. Mix the ricotta with the egg.
4. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the zucchini and peppers until soft. Add salt along the way (a trick I learned from the Michael Symon cookbook. Salt at the beginning and at the end and at every step in-between. Just a little bit each time. It brings out the best flavor in things.). Add the basil, oregano, and black pepper.
5. Mix together the barley, zucchini/pepper mix, and ricotta/egg mix. Spread into an 11×7 pan. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.
6. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the egg is set and cheese has melted. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut and eat.
Also. If you just can’t get enough of me, check out my guest post over at Our Krazy Kitchen! On the first Saturday of every month, I am going to be hosting a column called Cooking The Italian Way, so be sure to check it out. This month’s post is on the holy trinity of Italian food – basil, tomato, and mozzarella!