Use Natures Harvest to Make Quick Weekday Meals

Healthnotes Newswire (October 8, 2009)—Autumn showcases a bounty of late-summer and autumn vegetables. Reap the season’s abundance and make it the base for a series of colorful and nutritious weekday meals.

Get ready

Start your week by prepping a variety of fall vegetables. Think zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, peppers, carrots, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes. Wash and chop vegetables, place in a large baking dish, and coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss in dried or fresh herbs—basil, oregano, thyme, or rosemary. Roast in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for 50 minutes to an hour, until tender but not overcooked. Roast mushrooms the same way in a separate pan. Kept refrigerated, your vegetables are ready to be added to any meal.

Soup’s on

Homemade vegetable soup gets its rich flavor from the slow roasting method. Transfer roasted vegetables to a soup pot, add vegetable stock and water, and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer until flavors meld. Puree soup in blender and return to pot. Season to taste. Serve your fresh-from-the-earth soup with crusty bread and a tossed salad. Or combine roasted vegetables with vegetable or beef stock and water—at least 3 cups (710 ml)—in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup (198 grams) of barley and cook until barley becomes tender (about an hour). Add roasted mushrooms, add butter to taste, and season with thyme, salt, and pepper.

Enjoy an elegant vegetable tart

Tarts don’t have to be time-consuming, but they can appear to be! Pick up a prepackaged pastry shell or piecrust, and dinner is ready sooner than you thought. Follow directions for pastry preparation. Layer crust or sheet with ricotta cheese mixed with lemon juice, a healthy handful of parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and oregano. Place roasted vegetables on top of the ricotta and drizzle the tart or pie with olive oil. Sprinkle pine nuts over top and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until crust is a golden brown. Dinner is served!

Create a perfect pasta

Use the last of your roasted vegetable stash to create a rich, velvety pasta dish. Prepare your favorite pasta—spaghetti, linguini, rotini, penne—and drain. Place the hot pasta in a large serving bowl. Toss in vegetables with several spoonfuls of goat cheese, brie, or other soft cheese. Stir together and let the heat of pasta melt the cheese and warm the vegetables. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Kathleen Finn is a writer and marketing consultant for The Natural Word. She specializes in natural health, food, and fitness material, and has worked on staff at Delicious! Magazine and written for Yoga Journal, Spa Magazine, Natural Foods Merchandiser, and Nutrition Science News. She holds a master's degree in Journalism from University of Colorado in Boulder.

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