by Fresh and Frugal

It’s nearly the end of the week and I still have a fridge relatively full of produce since, like a horrible foodie (or food blogger, for that matter), I fell asleep without eating last night. I know. So instead of making you wait until tomorrow, we’re talking about what was just scooped out of the pan and into my mouth.

As we discussed yesterday, I have a bit of a tomato problem. That’s the first step, right? All day I’ve been craving slow-roasted tomatoes that I learned to make by drooling my way through Smitten Kitchen’s recipes and finally trying out at my parents’ house. The question is, what do I put them with? And can I wait for dinner until 9pm? Certainly not. So of course, I set to work immediately when I got home, preheating and slicing and olive oil-drizzling away until the tomatoes were in the oven and I was faced with the first question again: what to put it with?

I had majored in classical studies and have a raging passion not only for classical Greek antiquity, but the modern people, landscapes, and especially the food. Rifling through the fridge, my hand closed around the remaining yellow summer squash and the container of mushrooms. A few seconds later, my little tub of feta cheese followed and before I knew it, the squash was ribboned, the mushrooms were sliced, and they were both in a pan on the stove.

Finally the cheese was mostly melted and I switched off the heat, but something was still missing. Something green. Yesterday afternoon (while checking my blog stats; thanks for visiting!) I came across someone claiming that parsley is a superfood — which basically means that it packs a ton of phytonutrients — and after doing a little more research myself, decided that the claim sounds legit enough.  A trip across the living room to the parsley plant my mom sent me home with provided the splash of green that the dish lacked. Honestly, I’m thinking I will be including parsley in more of my cooking. It might sound a little loopy, but I swear it adds a certain spark of freshness I just can’t find elsewhere, which makes me think of freshly mown grass. Maybe it’s that mom keeps the herbs on the back porch.

The only disappointment was that I wound up putting a little salt on my food once it was on the plate. Please don’t get me wrong, I do like salt and think that it has its place. When I make a simple dish with fresh food, feeling like salt is still necessary makes me feel like I must have done something wrong. Why couldn’t I make these natural ingredients just sing? Ah well, the feta did all the work for me, in the end.

Melted Feta and Vegetables

7 button mushrooms, sliced

6 whole roasted cherry tomatoes

1 yellow summer squash

3 oz. feta cheese (mine was in brine)

4 fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 250 and put cherry tomatoes on a foil-lined pan, lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Pop into oven when preheated, for 3 hrs. If you’re in a hurry, try preheating at 350 and then leaving the tomatoes in there for 15-20 minutes, or until they look nice and wrinkly.

Peel the yellow squash, forming long ribbons, and slice the mushrooms, then heat in a skillet over medium heat for 12-15 minutes. Gently fold in the soft, wrinkly tomatoes.

Add the feta and mix in. When almost completely melted, stir in the basil and parsley.

Sides: Spinach adds a shock of green to the plate, and the texture of Israeli/pearl couscous goes incredibly well with the cheesy vegetables.  If you’re in the mood for some meat, I bet shredded chicken would be a fantastic addition.