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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.

Fresh Limeade

28 Aug

I am completely addicted to this stuff.  We’ve made it several times this summer, thanks to the kids’ help.  They have graciously juiced bagfuls of limes from our local Mexican grocer.  This recipe is based on Mark Bittman’s suggested ratios; however, you should obviously adjust it to suit your taste.  I think it’s perfect as-is, but Sam likes his a little less tart.

Fresh Limeade

1 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 1/3 cups simple syrup*
4 cups water or sparkling water (it’s the best!)

Combine ingredients in pitcher and serve over lots of ice.

This recipe can be adjusted to make any quantity, simply use the ratio 1:1.3:4.

*To make simple syrup, just combine equal parts water and granulated sugar in a saucepan.  Boil gently until sugar is dissolved.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  It will keep for weeks.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

28 Aug

This is our new favorite dinner recipe.  I promise you won’t miss the meat!

Sweet Potato Enchiladas_1499

Sweet Potato Enchiladas_1497

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

  • 4 medium to large sweet potatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,softened
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1  1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1  1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1  1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 (7 inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 (19 ounce) can green enchilada sauce
  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and roast for about 60 minutes until soft in center.  Cool potatoes slightly.
2. Scoop the flesh of the sweet potatoes into a bowl, and mash it with the cream cheese, green onions, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper until well mixed.  Stir in black beans.  (Mixture can be made several hours ahead and refrigerated.)
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 13×9 inch baking dish.
4. Place 6 tortillas on a cookie sheet.  Spray both sides of tortillas with cooking spray and bake for 3 minutes until soft and pliable.  Repeat with remaining 6 tortillas.
5. Place about 1/3 cup of sweet potato filling down the center of each tortilla, roll it up, and place filled tortillas seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Pour enchilada sauce over the tortillas, and sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until the enchiladas are bubbling and the cheese is beginning to brown.
(Adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Ginger Pineapple Sparkling Punch

28 Apr

This is one of the best punches I’ve had lately.  I made it for a friend’s baby shower, and it was thankfully a bit hit.  The ginger syrup and fresh citrus juices really make it special.

Ginger Pineapple Sparkling Punch

Ingredients

For ginger syrup

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup thinly sliced unpeeled fresh ginger (1/4 lb; from two 5-inch-long pieces)

For punch

  • 3 cups unsweetened pineapple juice, chilled
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (3 to 5 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (4 to 6 limes)
  • 3 cups sparkling water, chilled
  • 4 cups ice cubes

Make ginger syrup:
Bring water, sugar, and ginger to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes, then remove from heat and steep, uncovered, 15 minutes. Pour syrup through a sieve into a bowl, discarding ginger. Chill, covered, until cold, about 2 hours.

Make punch:
Stir together ginger syrup and fruit juices in a punch bowl or pitcher. Stir in sparkling water and ice.

Cooks’ note: Ginger syrup keeps, covered and chilled, 2 weeks.

Serves 10

Source: Gourmet, December 2004