Tag Archives: vegetarian

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 1

The transition from fall to summer is my very favorite time of the year. I love the cool mornings and sunny (but not humid) days. It is the perfect time for making my favorite comfort food: Ratatouille. Like all good comfort foods, it is warm and filling and permeates your house with delicious smells as it cooks low and slow on the stove. And during this change of seasons, I love that I can still get great fresh garden vegetables and herbs to use in this recipe.

Ratatouille is not always the most visually appealing dish, but is bursting with flavor. It is full of hearty vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs Then cooked down on the stove until the flavors blend and meld into the most delicious vegetable stew. Eating healthy has never tasted better!

Ratatouille 2

This is Little A’s very favorite side dish. His face just lights up when he smells it as he comes into the house. All of the kids love it except for Little J (but she hardly counts as she turns her nose up to EVERY vegetable in this dish).

Ratatouille makes a perfect side dish to grilled or roasted meats. I love to serve it this time of year, when we still like to grill chicken, pork, or other things outside. Grilled meat is wonderful, but also begs for something juicy to eat with it. Ratatouille fits that bill perfectly. It is also great later in the winter with a roasted pork tenderloin, roast chicken, or beef roast.

This recipe makes a good-sized pot of ratatouille. You could always scale it back if you don’t want to make that much, but I love to have leftovers of this dish. It makes a perfect lunch all on its own the next day. Or as a sauce for pasta for an easy meal later in the week.

I never measure things when I make this recipe. It is very flexible based on your personal tastes. Below is a good approximation of the amounts that I use.

RECIPE:

Ratatouille 2

Ratatouille

½ cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, skin on, diced
2 onions, chopped
1 red/orange/yellow pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced and quartered
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
3 cups chopped tomatoes
½ tsp Tabasco sauce (adjust to taste)
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil*
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley*
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme*
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano*

Heat olive oil in a large saucepot. Add eggplant to the hot oil and cook until eggplant begins to soften. Add onions, red pepper and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, salt, pepper, and dried herbs; cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add chopped tomatoes and Tabasco sauce and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, until mixture is cooked down and thickened (30-40 minutes). Stir in fresh herbs during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.

*Or substitute an additional 2-3 tsp dried Italian seasoning for the fresh herbs

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Filed under Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Soups/Stews/Curries

Thai Pumpkin Curry

Thai Pumpkin Curry 2

Pumpkin Curry is one of my favorite things to order at Thai restaurants. Luckily, it is also a meal that you can make at home and end up with restaurant-quality results.

I usually use a butternut squash, but if you have an Asian grocery store nearby, kabocha squash works really well. It is a small green pumpkin that doesn’t get mushy or stringy when cooked. The squash is roasted before adding it to the curry. Half of the squash is pureed with coconut milk and the other half is cut into chunks to stir back into the curry before serving.

I love the thicker texture that the pureed squash gives to this curry. Leave out the chicken and you still have a hearty vegetarian meal.

Choose your favorite vegetables to pair with the squash. I like shitake mushrooms, carrots, red peppers, fresh spinach and zucchini (if you can find decent ones in the winter). In the summer, I add Thai basil from my garden. In the winter, I either use regular sweet basil, or just leave it out.

Thai Pumpkin Curry 1

RECIPE:

Thai Pumpkin Curry 2

Thai Pumpkin Curry

1 butternut squash or kabocha
olive oil, salt and pepper

1 lb boneless chicken breast, cut into very thin strips
1 Tbs Thai red curry paste
2 Tbs soy sauce

2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 small onion, sliced
½ red bell pepper, julienned
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 medium zucchini, julienned
½ cup sliced shitake mushrooms

2 cans (14 oz) coconut milk
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs Thai fish sauce
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs lime juice (or 4 kaffir lime leaves, chopped)
2 Tbs Thai red curry paste (adjust amount to personal taste)
1 cup fresh spinach or other greens
1/3 cup fresh basil (Thai basil preferably), coarsely chopped

Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Brush cut sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 425°F for 20-30 minutes, or until soft and cooked through.

While squash is cooking, combine sliced chicken, 1 Tbs curry paste and 2 Tbs soy sauce in a Ziploc bag. Let marinate at room temperature while squash cooks.

Heat 1 Tbs oil in wok or large saucepan. Add onion, red pepper, carrot, zucchini and mushrooms. Cook over high heat until crisp-tender. Remove from pan. Add remaining 1 Tbs oil to pan. Add chicken and cook over high heat, stirring until chicken is cooked through.

Peel and cut half of the cooked squash into cubes. Set aside. Place remaining half of the roasted squash (peeled) in a blender with one can of the coconut milk. Puree until smooth.

Add the pureed squash, remaining can of coconut milk (use to rinse out blender), 2 Tbs soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, salt, lime juice and remaining 2 Tbs curry paste to the chicken in the pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in squash cubes, spinach, basil and cooked vegetables. Heat until spinach wilts. Serve in bowls with or without rice.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Soups/Stews/Curries