Cooking co-ops and Veggie Egg Bake

What with swimming, gymnastics, more swimming, piano, jump-rope early in the mornings and a zillion other social engagements, I feel drained at the end of each day. It's tough to do it alone. I tip my hat to the single moms out there. I am physically exhausted and ready to throw in the towel after a week and a half! But I have to make it through another 3 weeks. It helps to be part of a cooking co-op. It takes a lot of pressure off trying to figure out what dinner should be.

Yes, I'm trying out a cooking co-op that 4 families in my neighborhood have been participating in for the last 7-8 years at least. They each cook 4 meals by the end of each month and exchange containers of frozen delights with the other families. Each family ends up with 12 different entrées, and 4 of their own, which help jumpstart the meals on busy weekdays. Dishes can be soups, sandwiches, burritos, pasta sauces, anything that will freeze well.

It works well for me because I cook in large quantities anyway and freeze meal-size portions to pull out on busy weekdays. But we end up eating the same thing too many times. This way, I cook the same amount except that I get a lot of variety in return. It's really quite exciting! So far I have got excellent chicken burritos, an eggplant sandwich to die for, navy bean soup that is in the freezer and a delicious veggie pasta sauce with mushrooms, red peppers and spinach (see picture). My contributions have been fish curry, shrimp pulao, pav bhaji and saag paneer. Luckily for me, they love Indian food!

Then again there are days when I long for my own cooking despite the hustle-bustle and sometimes a simple one-dish meal like a Veggie Egg Bake is the answer!

Veggie Egg Bake

  • 6 eggs, (3 yolks and 6 egg-whites)
  • 8 oz (1/2 bag) frozen chopped broccoli
  • 8 oz (1/2 bag) frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup green olives, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup cheese, pepper jack preferably
  • jalapenos for garnish, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. In a wide and flat over-proof casserole dish, make a layer of the frozen chopped broccoli
  3. Add the chopped red pepper evenly over the broccoli
  4. Add the chopped green olives (preferably the kind with stuffed pimentos)
  5. Add the frozen chopped spinach
  6. Season with salt and pepper
  7. Whisk the eggs until they are fluffy. I use my hand-whisk and whisk them in a tall narrow jar or glass for about 5 minutes for best results
  8. Pour the eggs over the veggies
  9. Cover with a layer of cheese
  10. Garnish with jalapenos
  11. Bake at 400F for 30 minutes or until a knife stuck in the middle of the veggie egg bake comes out clean

This dish is so easy to put together. You can switch the broccoli and spinach for other veggies you may have. It takes only about as long to put together as the oven takes to heat up to 400F. Yup! Just 10 minutes prep time and then go do whatever you need to for the next half hour. How easy is that?!

If you're wondering why only half the dish has the jalapenos, well, my daughter is not quite ready for the heat that generates!


Kay said...

This recipe looks great and is quite simple to put together too!

Indian Food Rocks said...

Hi Kay! Not only is it simple, it is quick and nutritious!! We had it with tomato soup and toasted wheat bread.

Admin said...

Looks great. Will definitly try out

Indian Food Rocks said...

Anthony, I am sure you will be able to add your own flair to this simple dish! :-D

Prachi said...

Manisha, the co-op sounds like a really neat idea! I wish I had some people I could do that with, but the two hurdles are lack of people and lack of cooking skills on my part. But I'm going to try your veggie bake this week. Thanks!

Fran (from AS)

Indian Food Rocks said...

Hey Fran! Good to see you here!! There's never a dearth of people - believe me! Colleagues, neighbors, friends, students, friend from the bus-stop...seed the idea and see where it goes. You never know who might be interested. As for lack of cooking skills, you're kidding me totally on that one, I know!

I hope you like the veggie egg bake!

GourmayMasala said...

Manisha -

I really like this recipe. This looks like a variation of the strata (Itatian). The strata recipe tops the dish off with cheese, and mostly consists of meat etc. This one very nutritious and hassle free. You can go crazy trying all different combinations of vegetables. Thanks!

Indian Food Rocks said...

You're most welcome, Garam Masala! It's quite like a veggie quiche, too, as I discovered this weekend. My daughter and I were invited to a friend's place for dinner and we were served vegetarian quiche - it was very similar except that it had a crust and there was cheese mixed into the egg as well as a layer of cheese. It was richer than my recipe. If you have a recipe for strata, please let me know cos I'd love to try it out!!

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Anonymous said...

Manisha, how is the dinner coop coming? I love my coop in Boise Idaho and am trying to catalog all the cities that have active dinner coops in the US. It seems one of the problems people have is figuring out how to find suitable members. I will definitely pass your site on to my other members so they will cook some delish Indian food for me!

Indian Food Rocks said...

Diana, our cooking coop is more on an ad-hoc basis now. When someone cooks, they call the others to see who might want it and then send boxes out to them. We don't keep track of who gave more or got more. In summer, it as good as shuts down for several reasons: people are on vacation, the other women in our coop are teachers and are therefore not hard-pressed for time on weekdays, and out here in Colorado, it's just too hot to cook large quantities.

Finding suitable members is always an issue. I have seen it work with smaller groups especially, with families who have tight schedules on weekdays but prefer to eat home-cooked food than store-bought frozen dinners. It is healthier and cheaper, too! It helps to have a block party or a community picnic or a potluck where people can meet, connect with each other, and maybe even taste each other's food and then sign up in groups of 3-4 families per group. It also works better in a neighbor-to-neighbor environment rather than spread over several neighborhoods as it is easier to meet and exchange food when folks live close by.

I wish you all the best with your compilation! You may also want to look into the Time Banking movement and how that has helped with similar neighbor-to-neighbor activities.

AnJ said...

Hi, what changes do I make if I'm using non-frozen (fresh) broccoli?
Thanks, Anjali