Posts Tagged vegetables

Not Your Average Ratatouille

ratatouille-image_1There are about a million recipes (might be a slight exaggeration, frankly) for this dish online and, in my younger years, I’m sure that I used one of them. Since then, I’ve played with it and have changed it.

I added pancetta, the Italian version of bacon, but if you prefer meatless, then it’s fine to leave it out. It will not ruin the dish. This is normally a side dish, but I’ve actually served it as a main course over rice.

It can be served sprinkled with Reggiano Parmesan. It can also be served with a couple of dollops of Mascarpone cheese. The sweetness of the cheese goes nicely with the spicy complex of the dish. Give it a try.

Ingredients

5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

8 oz chopped pancetta

1/4 cup minced garlic

1 medium Vidalia onion, rough chopped

1 medium zucchini, rough chopped

1 medium yellow (summer) squash, rough chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored and rough chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cored and rough chopped

1 medium eggplant, trimmed and cut into cubes*

1 tbsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1 can diced tomatoes with juice (14.5 oz can)

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Salt & pepper to taste

Reggiano parmesan or Mascarpone Cheese for serving

Directions

Heat up the evoo in a deep skillet and add the pancetta. Cook over medium heat until the pancetta crisps, moving it around the pan so that it cooks evenly. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Add the minced garlic to the oil, and cook until slightly brown and the oil is infused. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Next, add the onions, peppers, zucchini and summer squash. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the thyme and oregano and mix well. Cook for about another 2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, wine, tomatoes and eggplant. Simmer uncovered for abut 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is a bit reduced. Add the pancetta, stir, and simmer for about another minute or two. Do a spice check here. Give it a taste. The pancetta is salty, so you may not need salt. The choice is yours. Add pepper, however, for sure.

Remove from the heat and serve with either the parmesan or Mascarpone.

*I “trim” my eggplant, which means cutting off the edges. I never peel my eggplant. But the choice is yours. It works either way.

 

 

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Garden Quiche

Garden QuicheQuiche is one of the big “dinner underdogs.” People often think of making it if they’re throwing a brunch, or having people over for breakfast. Yet, quiche is one of the most versatile dishes on the planet, and it’s also fairly easy to make.

Purists will want to make their own crust. However, I am not ashamed to admit that making pastry crust is not my favorite foodie activity. I make no bones about using the frozen crust. It works just fine. As for the milk, feel free to use whole or 2%. It truly doesn’t make a difference. I keep a jar of prepared minced garlic in my fridge. That is what I use for this dish as opposed to mincing my own.

Cheese is the most important part of any quiche. I like a sharp cheese, but you should use whatever cheese works for your palate. There are no rules!

As for serving quiche, it’s a dish that goes great with a crisp green salad, regardless of what you put in it.

 

Ingredients

5 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1 frozen pie crust

1 cup shredded cheese (Asiago, Cheddar, Monterey Jack; depending upon your taste buds)

1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onions

1/2 cup chopped red, yellow and orange peppers

1/2 cup chopped Baby Bella mushrooms

1.5 cups baby spinach

2 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp Kosher or sea salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

Heat the canola oil in a large skillet. While you’re waiting for  it to warm up, put the eggs and milk in a bowl and mix well with a whisk. Set aside.

Once your skillet is ready, add the minced garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the oil becomes fragrant. Then, add the onions and peppers, as well as the rest of the spices (including the salt and pepper) and cook on medium heat until the onions become translucent. This will take about 7-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes more, again stirring the mixture occasionally.

The final item you add is the spinach. Cook until wilted, stirring regularly. Be sure to taste the filling at this point and adjust spices to suit your taste. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the filling to cool a bit. While cooling, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Prior to adding the filling and cheese to the egg mixture, give it several more whisks. Then, add the vegetable filling and shredded cheese.

Mix thoroughly and pour it into a frozen pie crust. Place the quiche on a cookie sheet and place it in the oven.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a knife (or toothpick) inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

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Twenty-Clove Cauliflower Bake

Cauliflower-Garlic BakeI call this Twenty-Clove Cauliflower Bake because you literally bake a head of cauliflower with twenty semi-crushed whole cloves of garlic. And I mean semi-crushed, just enough to break open the cloves a bit. I use the back of a ramekin ever so gently on the cloves.

I keep a container of already-peeled garlic in my fridge. You can get this at your local grocer for not a lot of scratch. And it’s so much easier than peeling 20 cloves of garlic by hand.

This is a great side dish for just about everything you can think of, whether you’re making pork, beef, chicken or fish. It even works as a side for pasta dishes. I made this last night with my pan-seared scallops, which is another recipe I plan to post later today.

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets

20 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp fresh lemon juice (optional, but I like it)

2-3 tbsp freshly chopped rosemary

1 tsp Himalayan sea salt (Kosher or regular sea salt is also fine here)

1 tsp fresh-ground black pepper

Finely grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

The first thing I do is whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt and pepper and set it aside.

Break up the whole cauliflower into bite-sized florets, and gently break the garlic cloves.

Place the cauliflower and garlic in a single layer in a large baking dish. Pour the olive oil mixture over the vegetables and stir to coat. I generally drizzle a bit more olive oil on top before placing it in the oven.

Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes. This allows the garlic to cook through and sweeten. It’s delicious.

If you want, sprinkle with finely grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese prior to serving.

 

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