A Medley of Sautéed Veggies with Pesto and Feta

As a modern day free-spirit I don’t generally find myself spending a whole lot of time cooking, or even in the kitchen in general. Plus, since I basically only ever cook for one (my roommate has just about the worst diet, if you even dare call it that, and is a serious carnivore, and rarely eats anything that isn’t friend or smothered in butter), I find it hard to find small portion vegetarian friendly recipes that are yummy and easy to make. So when I do venture into the kitchen I always like to whip up something with fresh veggies (probably the vegetarian in me), and something small enough for one.

So, last night I decided to make a veggie medley with some of the fresh veggies I already happened to have on hand. Now personally I think everything tastes THAAAAT much better with pesto and cheese, so I like to add either one (usually even both) to anything I cook. So with that came out my latest creation of Sautéed Veggies with Pesto and Feta.


1 Medium sized potato (sliced)

1 Clove of garlic (finely chopped)

3 Handfuls of already sliced mushrooms

1 Large zucchini (sliced)

8 Spears of asparagus (chopped)

2.5 Tablespoon of canola or (olive) oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons of pesto

1 Tablespoon of crumbled feta cheese (if you don’t have that on hand then Parmesan is also delicious and works well)

(Slight disclaimer: when I cook for myself, unless I’m following a recipe I generally approximate all ingredients to my personal likings’, so please feel free to  adjust recipe and ingredients accordingly based on your own personal preferences.)

Now that you’re all set with your ingredients the real fun begins!

So, since potatoes take the longest to cook it makes most sense to start there. First, peel the potato, then cut into four large quarter sections, and finish it off by cutting each quarter into thin slices. This isn’t a recipe that involves serious perfection, so no need to break your back trying to make perfectly even slices. As soon as your done slicing you want to start cooking your potatoes, this way they can get nice and golden-brown with a slightly crispy finish while you finish prepping the rest of your veggies. My stove-top was set to a medium-high heat for this (safety first), but I would adjust the heat slightly throughout the cooking process to avoid anything getting burnt. So, add about one tablespoon of your oil to the pan, and then add in your potatoes, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Now, whatever you do, do NOT forgot to stir the potatoes occasionally because you want them to cook evenly all the way through, and not be burnt on one-side.

Once your potatoes are going you want to quickly get your garlic clove finely chopped, so that you can add that in next. Because guess what? Nothing is better than garlic potatoes–in any form!! OK, now that potatoes and garlic have had a moment to mix together it’s safe to add the mushrooms into the pot (or in this case pan). Here, depending on how seasoned you like your food you may want to add a touch more salt and/or pepper, and a splash more oil if you think your sautée is looking a little dry.

Potatoes, mushrooms, and garlic sautéing together.

While that’s all cooking together you can continue the rest of your prep work. So, next I quickly cut my asparagus; I like to use chunks so I cut each spear into four to five pieces. Set that to the side, and don’t forget to keep mixing the veggies you currently have sautéing together. Now add in your asparagi (plural of asparagus?). Use your best judgement here to decide if you want/need more oil, salt, and /or pepper, add  whatever you want at your own discretion here.

Asparagi have been added into the mix.

We’re almost done! As that’s all cooking together (and you keep mixing occasionally), it’s time to cut the zucchini. I personally prefer my zucchini chopped into thin slices, so that’s what I did.

Zucchini chopped into thin slices.

As soon as that’s done, you can now immediately add the zucchini into the pan with everything else. And let it all sautée and mix together, stirring occasionally. I let everything cook together for about 7-10 minutes before I started mixing in the pesto sauce!! My personal preference is to gradually mix in the sauce until it looks delicious to you, and your taste buds. Once you have your desired amount of pesto sauce added, let everything cook together (never stop stirring) for another 2-3 minutes.

All your veggies are now cooking together.

Finally, your hard work has paid off and it’s time to serve and let the FEAST begin! So, move the entire pan of ingredients to a serving dish, a sprinkle with your favorite cheese topping. Like I said earlier, I LOVE cheese, so I probably ended up adding a little more than a tablespoon of crumbled feta (but trust me it was worth every calorie).

Desired amount of pesto sauce has been added, and the sautéed veggie mix has been moved to a serving dish.

And, voila dinner for one vegetarian (or just a veggie lover) is served (yummm-o!!!).

Finishing touch – sprinkles of crumbled feta – has been added!

Bonus: it’s super easy to adjust the types of ingredients you’re using, and the quantities of each depending on the number of people you want to feed. Also, makes for a great appetizer for dinner parties, and left-overs can easily be boxed and taken to work for lunch the next day. Talk about a meal that just keeps on giving.

Bon appetit!

Health and Fitness Retreat at Rancho La Puerta: Dinnertime and Evening Activities (Part IV)

6:30pm – Dinnertime. Now, I know earlier I said that lunchtime at The Ranch was my favorite, but that’s because at the time of the post I had temporarily blocked the memories of the fantastic dinners from my mind (probably to better be able to focus on lunch). However, dinners at The Ranch are truly a unique experience, and the only meal there that isn’t served buffet style, and instead is brought to your table based on your selection from that day’s options. A typical dinner consists of both a soup and salad starter followed by a main course, and wrapped up with a delectable little dessert. But in typical Ranch fashion the food is anything but ordinary. While all the food is organic and picked daily fresh from their own gardens the chefs are able to create such distinct flavors that your taste buds literally think they have died and gone to food heaven. Honestly, now amount of explanations can even do it justice, so I hope that one day all of you can go there and experience it for yourself; but since a picture is worth a thousand words I will try to relay the art of their cooking that way.

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Health and Fitness Retreat at Rancho La Puerta: Afternoon Delights (Part III)

Now, since I do the 11:00am yoga class which is 1 hour and 15 minutes long, as opposed to all other classes which generally run from 45-50 minutes in time, I generally get to lunch later than most people there. But have no fear there is still plenty of time to sample all of the delicious goodies that are available for that day.

12:15pm – LUNCH TIME! My personal favorite time of the day – lunch is also served buffet style and has endless options each one more delicious than the one the day before!! Also, by this time of the day the sun is out and fully shining, so lunch can be enjoyed anywhere outside of the Dining Hall. A typical lunch at the Ranch generally will include a specialty soup and salad combination followed by a featured hot item of the day – my two favorites from this past week were fish taco day and pizza day. But trust me this is nothing like the pizza you are used to having delivered to your door from any of the nearby pizza joints in your town. In fact, it is anything but that!

Dining Hall - where meal time magic happens!

One of the many outside seating areas around the Dining Hall.

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Health and Fitness Retreat at Rancho La Puerta: Typical Morning (Part II)

For me, a typical day at Rancho La Puerta starts with the following routine:

6:00am – Morning hike. Generally I do not do these, because I am just not a morning person at all myself, but they are a great way to start your day if you can just get out of your ever so warm and comfy bed early enough in the mornings. They have a variety of morning hikes at different experience levels, so there is something available for everyone, and usually the beginning level hikes, and the shorter hikes (which are around 2 miles versus the intermediate to experienced ones which are anywhere from 5-7miles) leave a little later, so at 7:00am. I do make one exception to my NO Morning Hikes Rule though, and that is for the Organic Garden Breakfast Hike. This is truly an experience that I would recommend, and wish for everyone to have at least once in their life, as the beauty of The Ranch and all of its surroundings is beyond peaceful and serene as you are hiking (at a beginning level, so don’t worry) with the sun rising, to the gardens and off site kitchen of The Ranch (this is also where they offer cooking classes, but more about those later).

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Health and Fitness Retreat at Rancho La Puerta (Part I)

Sorry for the delay in posting, but last week I went off the grid (literally) with my mom, sister, and eight other wild and crazy Russian women to a health spa retreat, Rancho la Puerta, in Tecate, Mexico. This was my second time at The Ranch, and it most certainly won’t be my last! Personally, I am not hugely into fitness, and working out, but I do like to lead a relatively healthy lifestyle, but something about being at The Ranch just inspires me, as well as most all other visitors there, to make healthier decisions in their daily lives.

It's a little hard to tell, but that brown metal fence is the border between California and Mexico.

For those of you who don’t know, and I’m assuming that’s most of you since the average demographic of people visiting there are 50 year old women, The Ranch is spread across 200 acres in Baja California (or as I prefer to call it — Mexi-Cali).  It is just past the boarder, and only a hour and a half drive down from San Diego, but you honestly feel like you have gone to a different world! Everything is green and blooming, and the whole place just feels full of life, with the most perfectly kept and manicured lawns I have ever seen (well not counting the gardens of St. Catherine’s Palace in St. Petersburg).

The Ranch is truly a wonderful place for those that are looking to just relax and get away from it all, and get inspired to boost their own personal health and fitness routines. It really does jump start your desire to lead a much more health conscious lifestyle.

Health and Fitness Retreat at Rancho La Puerta: Typical Morning (Part II)

Health and Fitness Retreat at Rancho La Puerta: Afternoon Delights (Part III)

Health and Fitness Retreat at Rancho La Puerta: Dinnertime and Evening Activities (Part IV)