On any given week opening the deli drawer in my fridge holds nearly as many varieties of cheese as the specialty cheese case in the grocery store. Hard, aged, soft; I’ve got em all in there. With some categories represented by more than one cheese variety. Only difference is that my drawer is packed so tightly you have to rummage around and pull blocks and wedges out to see what's in there.
But I like it that way.
It’s all about the cheese. If I had to choose between cheese and chocolate for the rest of my life, chocolate would receive a very sad breakup letter. A letter littered with tears, no doubt. But the choice is clear.
Cheese makes everything better. Everything.
And choosing the right cheese for the dish is key.
For awhile now I’ve been stuck in a rut with the familiar combo of Monterrey Jack and Cheddar for Mexican dishes. While there’s nothing wrong with that tried and true combo, I’ve grown a little tired of it. I just need a change. Similar to that feeling when you’ve had the same haircut for two years, ya know?
Well, I found my “new” cheese when I snuck a bite of veggies my friend made. (We call this friend "Benson" because she has the same first name as my daughter. Hence the title "Benson's Veggies.")
That particular tray of veggies was intended for someone else to enjoy with their dinner but that didn’t stop me from gettin’ in there for a sample. Or two. Or three. (With a new fork every time, of course. I'm no heathon.)
Good thing I stole a few bites because this perfect pairing of veggies uses a cheese I had no previous experience with- Cotija. It feels almost like cheddar in the packaging but grates up the way aged Parmesan does. And, as any respectable cheese should, it has it’s own very unique flavor. Bright and every so slightly tangy. One might even say the Mexican version of Feta.
Before I dug my spoon in I mistakenly thought I was getting a bite of feta, but immediately knew it was a brand new little cheese as soon as I started chewing. The slightly crumbly texture atop the savory veggies is a winning combo. Adding it to the duo of lime juice and cilantro makes this dish magical. (At least for someone who grew up thinking tacos were the extent of homemade Mexican cooking.)
You’ve gotta try this one guys.
You'll want to put Cotija on EVERYTHING when you do.
Benson’s Roasted Cotija Mixed Veggies
- 2 zucchini
- 2 squash
- 2 carrots
- ½ pint grape tomatoes
- 8-16 oz frozen corn, thawed
- Handful of cilantro leaves
- Juice of 1 lime
- A bit of cotija cheese
- Garlic powder
- Cutting board
- Veggie peeler
- Aluminum foil
- Baking pan
- Cheese grater
1. Cover a baking sheet (or sheet pan) in aluminum foil.
2. Let that frozen corn thaw a little on the pan by getting it on there first.
3. Cut off the tops and ends of that zucchini squash and chop it as evenly as you can.
4. Do the same for the yellow squash.
5. Chop carrots a little smaller. Those suckers are a lot crunchier than squash, after all.
6. Carefully slice those grape tomatoes in half.
7. Pile everything on the baking sheet and stir it together.
8. Add a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder and toss it in EVOO.
9. Roast at 425° until slightly browned, approximately 30 minutes.
10. While you wait get the triple threat ready; chop some green onions and cilantro, and cut a lime in half.
11. Drizzle as much lime juice as you like over those steaming veggies.
12. Toss on some chopped cilantro and green onions.
13. Stir it up.
15. Grate a ridiculous amount of that Cotija cheese on top. Watch it melt and start getting excited!
15. Now dig in!
I hope this one becomes a staple in your home- I know it has in mine! Here's the printable version for ya:
You can also download it here.
What are your favorite ways to make veggies the star of dinner? Leave me a comment with your best recipes and ideas!
Happy chopping and roasting and munching, friends. And whatever you make, make it yours!
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