Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sesame-Baked Vegetables

"Sesame-Baked Vegetables" (page 319) presented me with a big challenge. Since my goal is to try to keep these recipes oil free and whole grain, I quickly realized I wouldn't be able to use the puff pastry this dish called for. As it turns out, one of the defining ingredients of puff pastry is solid fat (butter, shortening, or lard) that is combined with white flour in a particular way that causes it to "puff" during baking. I perused the frozen foods section of several stores looking for any puff pastry that might be made with less fat (most of it seemed to be close to 50% fat), or at least not a solid fat. I totally gave up on finding a whole grain version - that was much too esoteric. But I soon realized that anything called Puff Pastry, by definition, is going to be some sort of solid fat combined with white flour. The puff pastry in this recipe is used as a topping for a mixture of sautéed and seasoned veggies (broccoli, onion, carrots, and tomatoes), creating a sort of vegetable pot pie. (The sesame in this recipe comes from seasoning the vegetables with sesame tahini and soy sauce, and sesame seeds are sprinkled on the "pie" as well.)

I finally decided to use phyllo dough instead of the puff pastry, a flaky dough product dramatically lower in fat (Puff Pastry = 60 grams of fat and 1606 calories per sheet / Phyllo Dough = 1 gram of fat and 57 calories per sheet). As you can imagine, using phyllo dough significantly changed the intended presentation of this dish, and to be honest, I'm not sure this was really a good substitution. For one thing, I'm not all that experienced working with phyllo, and I wasn't quite sure how to turn it into a veggie pot pie topping (I used 3-4 sheets to obtain the desired thickness in the "crust"). In retrospect, I think maybe just sprinkling seasoned panko breadcrumbs over the veggies in the baking dish would have been a better choice. But despite my fumbling attempts to make this dish into something it was never intended to be, I still enjoyed the baked and seasoned veggies which were flavorful regardless of what was put on top of them.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
  • Omit the olive oil when sautéing the veggies. Instead, use a nonstick skillet and/or a bit of water, sherry, or broth as the sauté liquid.
  • The only way I can think of to keep the topping on this dish whole grain and oil free is to use whole wheat panko breadcrumbs as the topping.

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