Weeknight Dinner from Solar Leftovers

It’s still cloudy here in southern California today but tonight’s ragù was made with leftovers from the solar braised ribs I blogged about yesterday. Paired with a salad and a good glass of wine it makes a great weeknight dinner. Make sure to set aside 1 cup of the onions and 1 cup of the sauce from the ribs to make this sauce. It’s more than enough for a pound of rigatoni.

Rigatoni with Beef Ragù


1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup cooked onions leftover from braised chuck ribs


1/2 cup dry red wine

1 (14 ounce can) strained tomatoes

5 ounces leftover braised chuck ribs, shredded

1 cup leftover sauce from chuck ribs

2 tablespoons butter

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

1 pound rigatoni prepared according to the instructions on the package


Heat the oil and the garlic in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the tomato paste. Stir in the cooked onions and the wine and cook until the wine evaporates. Stir in the tomatoes, the shredded meat, and the leftover sauce. Simmer until thickened, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Toss the sauce with the butter and rigatoni. Sprinkle with the cheese and serve immediately.




Onion Braised Chuck Short Ribs

The past two days have been cloudy here but thanks to modern weather forecasting, a little planning, and some reheating we were still able to enjoy solar cooked meals. I got this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s “The Best Make-Ahead Recipe” cookbook. It called for beef brisket but I couldn’t find any that wasn’t brined for corned beef. I used boneless chuck short ribs instead. Using short ribs makes it easier to adapt the recipe to the number of portions you want to make. Just calculate one rib per person and adjust the other ingredients accordingly. Make enough for leftovers of the sauce, onions, and ribs; they can be used for French dip sandwiches or pasta sauce later in the week.


4 to 5 pounds boneless beef chuck ribs

Salt and pepper

Vegetable oil

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Slow Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs

Boneless beef short ribs (also know as country-style ribs) require long, slow cooking to tenderize them – just what the Sun Oven does best!

Solar Boneless Beef Short Ribs with Horseradish Cream


Horseradish Cream:

6 tablespoons sour cream

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

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Super Easy Solar Roast

This roast is easy to make and packs a lot of flavor. It’s also easy to personalize; use wine instead of vinegar, throw in some mushrooms, add a little garlic, try different herbs – you get the idea. Make it your own.

Sun Oven Bottom Round Roast


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Mmmm… Solar Meatloaf Muffins

Making meatloaf muffins has many advantages. They cook faster, make portion control easier, freeze well, and are fun to eat. Use your favorite meatloaf recipe or use mine which can be found by clicking here. Serve them with mashed potatoes or make some solar tomato sauce for spaghetti and meatballs. Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy cast iron pan like the one in the picture, any muffin pan, or even silicone cupcake molds, will work just fine; if not better. Whatever type of cookware you use, it will need to be covered with tin foil and a tea towel, or placed in an oven bag.

Solar Stew with a Mediterranean Flair

This stew is best when paired with a good crusty bread or some soft polenta to soak up the flavor packed juices. Any leftovers can be frozen for a quick week-night meal.

Sun Oven Mediterranean Beef Stew


1 pound boneless bottom round roast, cut into 1-inch chunks

3 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned, halved lengthwise, and sliced

2 teaspoons herbes de Provence

3/4 teaspoon salt

6 cloves garlic, minced

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Sun Oven Meat Loaf

Mixing shredded vegetables into meatloaf is a good way of cutting down on meat consumption. This recipe uses onion, carrots, and zucchini but be creative and use what you have on hand. Cabbage, kale, or leeks are just a few alternatives that come to mind

Beef and Vegetable Loaf

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup shredded zucchini

1 clove garlic, minced

1 slice white bread, torn into small pieces

1/8 cup dry red wine

1 lb ground beef

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Set Global Sun Oven out to preheat.

Drape a long piece of tin foil folded in two over the bottom and up the sides of an oval, lidded roasting pan and coat it with cooking spray.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook until softened; about 5 minutes. Add carrots, zucchini, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened; about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Combine bread and wine in a small bowl; let stand for 10 minutes

In a large bowl, combine beef, egg, basil, salt, pepper, cooled vegetables and soaked bread. Shape beef mixture into an oval loaf; place into prepared roasting pan. Bake in GSO until cooked through, approx. 1 1/2 hours. Remove from GSO and let stand 5 minutes. Lift loaf out of roasting pan onto a platter using tin foil lining.

Serves 6 to 8

Sun Oven Sunday Roast

Beef eye round roast is a relatively inexpensive cut that can be easily prepared in the Global Sun Oven. We get quite a few meals out of one roast, either served with mashed potatoes and veggies for dinner, or sliced thin for sandwiches for lunch. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the roast, but on a sunny day will be comparable to a conventional oven; ten to twenty minutes per pound for rare. It’s one of the few things that are easy to overcook in the GSO so some kind of meat thermometer is a must. I like a probe because it eliminates the need to open the door, is easy to read, and has an alarm in case I get distracted.

Simple Solar Roast Beef


4- to 6-pound beef eye round roast




Let meat stand at cool room temperature for 45 minutes before roasting.

Set Global Sun Oven out to preheat.

Set roast, fat side up on a metal rack in a lidded roasting pan and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup water to bottom of roasting pan, cover and place in GSO. Cook until the thermometer reads 120ºF. Let roast stand, covered, 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

As you can see this is an extremely simple recipe. The hardest part was finding a roasting rack that would fit in my pan. I improvised with some canning rings with excellent results.

Meatballs in the Sun

In this recipe the meatballs don’t need to be browned, making it ideal for the GSO. I usually serve them over spaghetti for a classic Italian-American favorite. Any leftovers could be used for meatball sandwiches.


1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs

1/4 cup dry red wine

1 pound ground beef

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese

1/2 small onion, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried mustard

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, halved lengthwise

1 26 oz. carton Pomi strained tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh basil, torn into pieces


Set Global Sun Oven out to preheat.

Soak breadcrumbs in wine. In a large bowl combine breadcrumb wine mixture with the next 6 ingredients, beef through dried mustard. Form 12 meatballs.

Combine olive oil and halved garlic clove in a dark roasting pan with a lid. Place in GSO and cook until garlic begins to turn brown, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from GSO, add meatballs. Mix salt into strained tomatoes and pour over meatballs, cover and return pan to GSO. Cook until meatballs are cooked through, about 40 minutes or until glass door begins to steam up.

Makes serves 4 to 6

Solar Braised Short Ribs

A few years ago it seemed like all the food publications and T.V. shows were raving about short ribs. They all claimed that they were inexpensive, yet I’d never tasted any and had only seen them on the menus of high end restaurants. Finally, on a vacation in Bisbee, we treated ourselves to a nice meal at Cafe Roka and I odered some. When they got to the table the first thing I thought was, “I could make this.” Braising meat is not all that hard and a Global Sun Oven makes the task even easier.

Braised Short Ribs with Parsnip Mashed Potatoes

(adapted from the May 2009 issue of Bon Appétit)



2 tablespoons room-temperature butter, divided

4 3-to 4-inch long meaty beef short ribs (about 2 pounds)

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