When my oldest daughter Emily was not yet a year old, I enrolled her in a Mother’s Day out program. She had a chance to socialize with someone other than me and I had a morning each week for myself. You know, to grocery shop or get a haircut or even just to meet friends for coffee. The added benefit was meeting other moms of young children and I made some great friendships from that experience. One of the best was with my friend Joyce. Bonded initially because we had both named our daughter’s Emily, we soon discovered that we also shared a love of reading and cooking and over the course of the years that we lived in the same town, we often got together to share food, fellowship and recipes. Our children were best of friends too; the Emily’s got along great and we both eventually had another girl and we surely anticipated that Lauren and Kate would follow suit.
As often happens when young families are in transition though, we both ended up moving to different states. I went through a painful divorce and both the distance and life circumstances saw our long distance relationship eventually wane. Yet…I never forgot Joyce; we had a special friendship at a very special time in our lives when we were having children and not a year went by that I didn’t think of her. During the process of moving two years ago, I came across an old binder with a lot of written recipes and one of them was for this Mediterranean Vegetable Stroganoff that was a favorite that Joyce had made for us one evening when we were at their home for dinner. I’ve had it on my mind since then to make it again and finally the time was right. This weeks theme for the Food Network’s #ComfortFoodFest is ‘Cheesy’ and the sauce for this dish absolutely complies; filled with Ricotta and Parmesan it is just that and is the perfect complement to the vegetables it surrounds with a rich and satisfying flavor.
I’m so glad I still have the original recipe from her; even though it’s in my handwriting, I remember her giving me the paper and writing it at her kitchen table (in the olden days before the Internet or blogs; this is how we shared!). Isn’t it amazing how one small thing can bring such a flood of memories? It’s funny too that I recall loving it but not making it often since it seemed to take a lot of time. I did not have a Cuisinart when my children were small…it is amazing the quick work it made of slicing mushrooms, leek and carrots…it didn’t seem time consuming at all. What I was curious to see was if my more mature palate would love it as much as my memory did.
If possible I think I loved it more; I’ve grown especially fond of leeks and they are a big part of the flavor profile. Of course a Sherry cream sauce served over that pretty rice doesn’t hurt. The rice gets that beautiful color from the addition of Turmeric while cooking. I can’t say it had much flavor but that’s OK though; the sauce is so flavorful that I think just coloring the rice is enough and I wouldn’t want another flavor component to change one thing. This is not like any stroganoff you’ve ever had; I daresay if you’re like me, you’ll think it’s the best!
Making a recipe from someone that was my best friend at one time made me miss her and I decided to try Google and see if we could reconnect. I was unprepared and saddened to hear that she had passed away; she was far too young. I remember so fondly what a wonderful sweet friend she was and of her girls, even though grown, now without their mom, and I know I will be spending some time trying to see if I can find them too. I’m more grateful than ever that I have this dish that reminds me of Joyce; I’ll celebrate her each and every time I serve it in my home.
This post is in memory of you Joyce, a wonderful friend that was in my life at such a sweet time…know you will never be forgotten. Joyce was so caring and full of life; she would not want a morose memory but one that is a reminder of those wonderful times and how much fun and laughter we always shared. Here’s to you Joyce, I’ve shed some tears but I promise that it’s your smile I will remember every time I prepare this delicious dish.
Mediterranean Vegetable Stroganoff
- 3 c. broccoli, bite size
- 4 medium carrots, thinly sliced
- 1/4 c. butter
- 1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium leek or 3-4 green onions, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp. regular or gluten free flour
- 2 c. half and half
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. bouillon or 1 cube (vegetable or chicken)
- 1/2 c. dry sherry or white wine
- 1/2 c. sliced ripe olives
- 1 c. sour cream
- 1 c. ricotta
- 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan
For Turmeric Rice
- 2 cups rice
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp chicken or vegetable bouillon
- Parsley for garnish (optional)
- Cook broccoli and carrots in boiling, salted water for 5 minutes or until crisp and tender. Drain.
- Melt butter and sauté mushrooms, leeks and garlic until mushrooms in butter until mushrooms are just tender.
- Blend in flour. Stir in cream, soy and bouillon. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.
- Add drained veggies, wine and olives. In small bowl, combine sour cream, ricotta and Parmesan. Gradually stir 1 cup hot mixture into cheese and then return to pan. Cook 3 to 4 minutes until heated. DO NOT BOIL!
- Prepare rice per package directions; adding turmeric and bouillon to water.
- Serve Stroganoff mixture over turmeric rice.
- Garnish with parsley (optional)
Need more ooey, gooey. cheesy dishes? Check out these other recipes from my friends participating with me in #ComfortFoodFest!
Feed Me Phoebe: Healthy Mac and Cheese with “Creamed” Spinach
The Lemon Bowl: Cheesy Enchilada Bake with Shredded Pork and Spelt
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Rice ‘n Cheese
Dishing with Divya: White Beans and Spinach Enchiladas with Spicy Jalapeno Sauce
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Beef Enchilada
Healthy Eats: 6 Better Ways to Put Cheese on Everything
TasteBook: Southwestern Cheese Crisp with Chipotle Ranch Dip
The Mom 100: Spiralized Cheesy Butternut Squash and Carrot Casserole with Chicken
Taste with the Eyes: Crispy Shaved Brussels Sprouts Flatbread with Bleu Cheese
FN Dish: 5 Dishes That Are Even Better As Cheesy Casseroles