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Speedy Ratatouille

3 Apr

I love this recipe because (a) my kids love it and usually ask for second helpings, (b) it is even better the next day, as with most stews, (c) it is very doable for a weeknight meal, and (d) it is a great vegetarian option.  The original recipe is stellar, so I only made a few changes to make it even more weeknight-friendly.  Serve with lots of crusty bread.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 – 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, lightly drained
  • 1  1/2 teaspoon dried sweet basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup crumbled aged goat cheese (or feta if you prefer)

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the eggplant along with 1/2 tsp. dried basil and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add one-third of the garlic, season with salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant to a large bowl.

Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the pot.  Add the zucchini and yellow squash along with 1/2 tsp dried basil and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Add another one-third of the garlic, season with salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the vegetables to the eggplant.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the casserole, along with the onion, bell pepper, and 1/2 tsp dried basil. Cook over moderate heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the remaining garlic, season with salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes and the reserved vegetables and cook over moderate heat until the tomatoes have broken down and the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Transfer to bowls and sprinkle with the goat cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

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Speedy Ratatouille

28 Aug

Speedy Ratatouille

This dish is magic.  It’s full of vegetables, but despite that, my kids seem to love it.  I was shocked when they asked for a second helping the first time I made it.  Thinking it was a fluke, I made it again a few weeks later.  Again, they emptied their bowls and asked for more.  It’s become a family staple.  Nowadays they even get excited when I tell them we’re having ratatouille for dinner.

This would be a great dinner for company, because you can make it the day before (see notes below).  Be sure to serve it with crusty bread….mmm.

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, cored and finely chopped (in a pinch, I just use canned tomatoes)
  • 1 cup loosely packed shredded basil leaves*
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup crumbled aged goat cheese
  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the eggplant and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add one-third of the garlic, season with salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant to a plate.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the casserole along with the zucchini and yellow squash and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Add another one-third of the garlic, season with salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the vegetables to the eggplant.
  3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the casserole, along with the onion and bell pepper. Cook over moderate heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the remaining garlic, season with salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, two-thirds of the basil and the reserved vegetables and cook over moderate heat until the tomatoes have broken down and the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining basil along with the lemon zest and juice. Transfer to bowls and sprinkle with the goat cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Make Ahead: The ratatouille can be refrigerated overnight.  In fact, it’s even better the next day.  Just wait to do the lemon and goat cheese until you’re ready to serve.
*If you don’t have fresh basil on hand, you can substitute dried basil.  I add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon to each batch of cooking veggies.

Chana Masala

28 Aug

Chana Masala- Homemade life2

This summer I read Molly Wizenberg’s memoir, A Homemade Life.  It’s full of yummy recipes and was really inspiring.  I have made at least 8 of her recipes and so far none have disappointed.  This was one of our family favorites.  Yes, even the kids enjoyed it.

Chana Masala

Good-quality olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garam masala
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed (or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom)
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 Tbs cilantro leaves, roughly torn, plus more for garnish
A pinch of cayenne, or to taste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6-8 Tbs plain whole-milk yogurt, optional
A few lemon wedges, optional

Directions:

Film the bottom of a large saucepan or Dutch oven—preferably not nonstick—with olive oil, and place the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until it is deeply caramelized and even charred in some spots. Be patient. The more color, the more full-flavored the final dish will be.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic, stirring, and add a bit more oil if the pan seems dry. Add the cumin seeds, coriander, ginger, garam masala, and cardamom pods (or powder), and fry them, stirring constantly, until fragrant and toasty, about 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup water, and stir to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the water has evaporated away completely. Pour in the juice from can of tomatoes, followed by the tomatoes themselves, using your hands to break them apart as you add them; alternatively, add them whole and crush them in the pot with a potato masher. Add the salt.

Raise the heat to medium, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the cilantro and cayenne, and simmer the sauce gently, stirring occasionally, until it reduces a bit and begins to thicken. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Add the chickpeas, stirring well, and cook over low heat for about five minutes. Add 2 Tbs water, and cook for another five minutes. Add another 2 Tbs water, and cook until the water is absorbed, a few minutes more. This process of adding and cooking off water helps to concentrate the sauce’s flavor and makes the chickpeas more tender and toothsome. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Stir in the yogurt, if you like, or garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro. Serve. **

Yields 4 servings

**Molly’s notes about serving– This chana masala can be served in two different styles: with a half-cup of whole-milk yogurt to smooth and soften the flavors, or sans yogurt, served with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of fresh cilantro. Either way, this dish is even better the second—or third—day.