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Ratatouille

I have prepared and eaten Ratatouille many times. Of course, why not, because I like eggplant . . . a lot. Usually my ratatouille is a delicious, but rather unappetizing-looking, mess. This recipe is something completely different. Not only is it delicious, it’s beautiful!

I used the recipe https://realfoodnuts.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/ratatouille-casserole/ at Real Food Nuts, with a few modifications. It was so tasty that I tried it again so I could take pictures and show you how I did it. This is what happens when you don’t have a round casserole dish and you’re married to a wine-maker. Recipes morph.

Here goes . . .

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Slice two small eggplants (each one is about 7” long) crosswise into ¼” slices. I had bought a package of these small eggplants at Costco the other day, there were five of them in the bag.

Set the slices on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Turn the slices over and salt the other side. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes.

Set the slices on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Turn the slices over and salt the other side. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes. (I’m only picturing part of them. You will have  more.)

In the meantime, saute onion and garlic in olive oil. When translucent, stir in a 6-oz. can tomato paste, ¾ cup red wine, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Set aside. Rub a 9” square baking dish with olive oil. Empty the red sauce into the baking dish and smooth it evenly across the bottom.

In the meantime, saute onion and garlic in olive oil. When translucent, stir in a 6-oz. can tomato paste, ¾ cup red wine, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
Rub a 9” square baking dish with olive oil. Empty the red sauce into the baking dish and smooth it evenly across the bottom.

Slice summer squash (yellow obviously is what I used, but zucchini would work just the same) into ¼” slices crosswise. I had a bag of sweet mini-peppers from Costco and I used what was left of those, a dozen should do it. I was a little shy on the peppers, but it turned out fine. I cut the tops off and made sure there weren’t any seeds, then sliced each pepper in half lengthwise.

Slice summer squash (yellow obviously is what I used, but zucchini would work just the same) into ¼” slices crosswise. I had a bag of sweet mini-peppers from Costco and I used what was left of those, a dozen should do it. I was a little shy on the peppers, but it turned out fine. I cut the tops off and made sure there weren’t any seeds, then sliced each pepper in half lengthwise. Of course, the usual thing to use would be sliced bell pepper. Use whatever you have.

Blot the eggplants with paper towels and put them, with the squash and peppers, into a bowl. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil and stir around with your hands so that all the vegis are coated.

Blot the eggplants with paper towels and put them, with the squash and peppers, into a bowl. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil and stir around with your hands so that all the vegis are coated.

Alternate rows of vegetables onto the sauce as pictured.

Alternate rows of vegetables onto the sauce as pictured.

I started with the peppers upright, but when I realized I’d be short at the end, I turned the remaining ones sideways. I filled in some of the gaps with the smaller slices of squash. Sprinkle the top with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sliced fresh basil.

I started with the peppers upright, but when I realized I’d be short at the end, I turned the remaining ones sideways. I filled in some of the gaps with the smaller slices of squash. Sprinkle the top with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sliced fresh basil.

Cover with parchment paper, tucked into the inside, and bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Cover with parchment paper, tucked into the inside, and bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

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Voila, so beautiful!

Voila, so beautiful!

And delicious!

Ingredients:

Eggplant (2 small, about 7”)

Summer squash (2 small, about 7”)

Mini sweet peppers (12)

½ onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 6-oz. can tomato paste

¾ cup red wine (or water)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

This is a recipe idea that developed over the course of the afternoon. It’s based upon a Moroccan Lemon Chicken recipe that I really like, but I wanted to use other ingredients I had on hand. Over the past couple years I have purchased multi-packs of lean pork roasts from Costco. Most people probably make pulled pork with them, but they’re easy to cube for stews as well. I also had the last of those zucchinis from the on-sale dinner the other day. Plus, I bought a bag of lemons which are not lasting as long as I had hoped. Since I’m still playing around with the mechanics of posting, I’ve placed the recipe first and the photo instructions second. It’s hard to know whether most people favor reading or a visual representation.

PORK & LENTIL STEW

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. ground turmeric

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

½ tsp. ground cardamom

1.5 lbs. lean pork roast, cut into 1” cubes

1 quart chicken stock

2 lemons

1 cup lentils

3 small zucchinis, diced

Salt & pepper

In large pot, fry onions and garlic in 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium low heat until softened. Stir in turmeric and fry for another 2 minutes. [The aroma at this point is sublime.] Add paprika, cumin, coriander, and cardamom and continue frying over low heat for 2 minutes more. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.

Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in the pot and brown the pork pieces. The remnants of the turmeric should turn the pork a golden color. If not, add a pinch more of turmeric.

Return the onion mixture to the pot and pour in the chicken broth. Juice one of the lemons and add the juice. Cut the other lemon into quarters and add them. Stir in the lentils. Cover and let simmer for 35-60 minutes, depending upon how old your lentils are and how mushy you like them. Add zucchini and simmer until they’re cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

Chop onions and garlic. Saute in olive oil until soft.

Add spices and saute. Your kitchen will smell SO good!

Cut pork roast into 1" pieces.

Remove onion-garlic-spice mix from pan and set aside. Add olive oil to pan and saute pork pieces until browned.

Add chicken broth, lemon juice, lemon, and lentils. Simmer until lentils are cooked.

Add zucchini and simmer until zucchini is cooked.

This is what it looks like when finished.

And serve like stew, pictured here, or over rice.

I ran into a neighbor at the grocery store last week and she told me to go check out the sale produce in the back of the store next to the seafood. Amazing. That day I came home with about 10 bell pepper of various colors for $2.99. That’s what the regular price is for each one. I got the whole bag! Two days ago I picked up a bag of russet potatoes (I’d guess 10 pounds) for $1.99 and a bag of mixed bell peppers and zucchini for $2.99. We are in produce heaven. Tonight I made a zucchini dish of my own invention.

After you scoop out a lot of the flesh, lay the zucchinis in a greased 11×7″ baking dish and place pieces of mozzarella on top.
Cover with sauce.
Sprinkle croutons over the top.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake, uncovered, for 45-60 minutes. You may need to place a foil tent over the top at about 45 minutes if it gets too brown. YUMMY!

Zucchini Parmesan Bake

1 pound bulk Italian sausage

7 apx. 7″ long zucchini squash

1 jar favorite marinara-type pasta sauce (I like Safeway Arrabiata-very spicy)

8 oz. mozzarella (I like fresh, but the other should be fine)

1 6oz. package seasoned croutons

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Fry the Italian sausage in a medium pan until no longer pink. While it is cooking, cut the ends off zucchini and scoop out the soft seed part. Zucchini becomes quite watery while cooking and you want to remove a lot of the interior flesh. Chop the scooped out parts and add to the cooked sausage. Saute a little longer. Add pasta sauce to the Italian sausage mixture and let simmer for an hour, uncovered.

To assemble the dish, lay out the zucchini shells in a greased 11×7″ pan. Cut the mozzarella into pieces and lay the pieces into the zucchini shells. Cover everything with sauce. Sprinkle croutons across the top. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over all. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Place a foil tent lightly over the top at about 45 minutes if it starts getting too brown. Remove from heat when you see it bubbling. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.

If you want to make your own sauce and your own croutons, by all means do so. Tonight I used what I had on hand. It was quick and easy. The croutons worked very well to absorb the water created by the cooking zucchini.