Thursday, February 14, 2008

What To Do With Leftover Yogurt...

I was trying to decide if I should do a Valentine's post today. In the end, I didn't think too hard about it. I looked back in the archives and found that two years ago I didn't post about Valentine's Day, instead I was entirely too buys preparing to cater my sister's wedding. Last year I had the audacity to eschew Valentine's Day in favor of a post about losing weight...I'm so glad that since then I've placed a moratorium on insane ramblings about how to shed a few pounds.

So instead, today I'm going to share with you a fantastic use for that last cup of yogurt you have sitting around. I've been making homemade yogurt lately. It's extremely easy to do, and anyone can do it. I happen to use a yogurt maker, and normally I use milk, dry milk, and a bit of plain yogurt as my starter. This time though, I was out of the powdered milk and wondered how yogurt would turn out without it. So this time it was simply fat free milk and a few tablespoons of plain cultured yogurt to start it. Worked great actually! Without the powdered milk though, the yogurt comes out pretty runny, so I needed to thicken it by scooping it into a strainer to drain. I lined my metal seive with coffee filters and then scooped the yogurt into it. I had meant to let this sit for an hour or so, but before I knew it, several hours had gone by and I had luscious thick and creamy yogurt.

I thought about drizzling it with honey and eating it just like that, but then I noticed that it had an almost cream-cheese like consistency, and I knew it was calling for something special.

I took small bits of red bell pepper, onion, fennel, baby carrot, and radish and chopped them up finely. Total I had about a cup of finely chopped vegetables. I put this into a baking dish, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and then drizzled with heart-healthy olive oil. They then roasted in a 450º oven for about 20 minutes, or until nice and brown on the edges and extremely fragrant. Then I had to let this cool a bit. Once cooled, I simply combined my drained, thickened yogurt with my vegetables, and then added another pinch of salt and pepper. Back into the fridge to chill and meld they went, and later at dinner time I was rewarded with an amazing roasted vegetable dip. Using fat-free yogurt, no less. The only fat in this thing is the bit of olive oil, which actually increases the good cholesterol, so for us, we'll keep it in.

I served it up with whole wheat crackers to accompany some soup for dinner, but it would be awesome with crudite as well. In fact, It would also make an excellent dip for just about anything, and if you wanted, you could also give the vegetables a whiz around the food processor to make this more of a spread for tortilla roll-ups or for sandwiches. It would make an excellent spread for a smoked turkey or ham sandwich. I may just have that for lunch today, actually. So here's my Valentine's Day gift to you, a fantastic Roasted Vegetable Dip that you can enjoy with no guilt. It's truly delicious. The only thing I didn't add that I should have would be a clove of garlic to the roasting vegetables. I think I would slice it thinly so that it didn't burn before the rest of the vegetables were done. And of course, herbs could only make this better. Play with it as you will, and enjoy. I know we are!

Roasted Vegetable Dip

1/4 cup red bell pepper -- finely chopped
1/4 cup yellow onion -- finely chopped
1/4 cup fennel bulb -- finely chopped
1/8 cup baby carrots -- finely chopped
1/8 cup radishes -- finely chopped
1 clove garlic -- thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup nonfat yogurt -- drained for several hours

Preheat oven to 450º.

Combine chopped vegetables and garlic in a small oven safe dish. Drizzle with olive oil, some of the salt, and some of the pepper.

Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring once.

Allow vegetables to cool.

Combine with drained yogurt, adding remaining salt and pepper if needed.

Chill for about 1 hour to allow the yogurt to firm back up and the flavors to meld together.

Serve with crackers or vegetables.


JEP said...

You are a genius! How late at nite do you stay up to think of all these super ideas? Okay, I need to adjust this recipe a smidge...what ya suggest instead of the fennel & radish parts?

Erika W. said...

Whatever you have on hand. That's the beauty of this kind of recipe. I thought mushrooms would be a great addition myself, but really, whatever you have will work great. Zucchini, eggplant, celery, tomatoes even...

cathy said...

Looks wonderful, I can't wait to try it.