Written by Ann Shepphird   

La Costa herb gardenThe first thing you notice about the new herb gardens at the Spa at La Costa is how beautifully manicured they are – so manicured, in fact, you wonder if they aren’t just for show. But, no, the mint is used in the Spa Café’s mojito (and, yes, you’ve gotta love a spa with a mojito on the menu) and the parsley and lemon thyme are used in the Warm Mediterranean Vegetables with Goat Cheese that Executive Chef Hans Wiegand has created for their new spa menu. The dish is also great for gardeners (or farmers market shoppers) who’ve got a surplus of zucchini, squash, eggplant, bell pepper, shallots and Roma tomatoes – or those looking to make a low-calorie dish filled with healthy vegetables.

Warm Mediterranean Vegetables with Goat Cheese

1 zucchini diced ½ inch
1 yellow squash diced ½ inch
1 small Italian eggplant diced ½ inch
1 red bell pepper diced ½ inch
2 pc shallots small diced
8 pc vine-ripened Roma tomatoes diced ½ inch
15 lg basil leaves chopped
Salt, pepper, chili flakes to taste
1 tblsp chopped garlic
4 slices goat cheese
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
1.5 oz olive oil
1 tbls chopped parsley
1 tbls chopped lemon thyme

In a saucepan sauté the shallots and garlic for 2 minutes add all other vegetables and seasonings. Cook till vegetables are done for about 15 minutes. Check seasoning. Ladle the vegetables into a baking dish or individual baking dishes, sprinkle the Panko breadcrumbs on top and the goat cheese on top and bake until golden brown.