Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ratatouille for Lunch

Anna and Lilah came by yesterday for lunch. I can only have one friend who is a vegetarian and doesn't drink, and Anna has taken up both slots! If she wasn't so nice and sweet I would have sneaked some bacon grease into the veggies but I made an entirely vegetarian lunch that was actually really delicious and contained no fake products (I absolutely hate fake meat or fake whatever foods).
Ratatouille (Adapted from Nandita's recipe. Thanks, Nandy!)
For the sauce:
  • ~4 tomatoes (peeled, w/o seeds, chopped - you can use seeded chopped CANNED tomatoes in a pinch)
  • ~3-4 garlic cloves (minced or sliced)
  • a nice handful of Italian parsley (chopped)
  • ~2 twiggys of fresh thyme, chopped
  • ~8-9 fresh basil leaves (rough cut -- i.e. not too small)
  • at least 1/4 c olive oil (you can use more if you want. Use a good quality olive oil like Brianna - something you'd eat with your bread)
For the dish:
  • 2 eggplants (about 2 lbs), sliced into 1/2 inch slices. Japanese eggplant work well but regular eggplants are fine also.
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 4-6 slices
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into 4-6 slices
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme and/or rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F.
First you'll need to prep the egg plant: sprinkle salt over both side of the eggplant slices and lay them flat on top of two layers of paper towel, or a large colander if you have one. Let the eggplant sit for at least half hour to 45 minutes, until moisture comes out of the eggplant slices. Rinse the eggplant slices and squeeze dry between two paper towels. Set aside.
Then you'll make the sauce: In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil (1/4 cup) until warm. Add the garlic, sautee until cooked, then add the tomatoes, parsley, thyme, basil, simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile: sautee the bell peppers in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Set aside. sautee the onion slices until translucent and soft, salt to taste, set aside. Sautee the eggplant slices in 3 tablespoons of olive oil (add more if needed) - you may need to do this in batches. The eggplant slices are done when they are soft and golden brown. Set aside.
To assemble: layer some onions on the bottom of the dish. Then put a layer of the bell peppers, then eggplant slices, and some of the tomatoe sauce. Sprinkle a little salt and the herb mixture. Repeat until you fill the casserole dish. Bake for about 45 minutes until bubbly.
Quinoa Pilaf
  • 1/2 cup carrots, finely diced
  • half an onion, finely diced
  • a cup of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a colander through several changes of water
  • 1 3/4 cup hot water or vegetable broth
Place the oil in a medium deep skillet or sauce pan and turn the heat to medium. A minute later, add the onion and carrots and sautee untl soften, about 5 minutes. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, for at least 5-6 minutes (important - this toasts the quinoa and gives it a good flavor).
Then add the liquid and mushroom slices all at once. Cover and cook until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. If all the liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is not tender, you can add a little more (1/4 cup) of water and continue to cook until tender.
White bean salad
  • 3 cups cooked or canned white beans (I used a mixture of canned cannelini beans and black eyed peas. I also rinsed them before using.)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh marjoran, chopped
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
  • 6 Tablepoons olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (can also use sherry vinegar or balsamic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
Cook beans with half the thyme for 5 minutes until heated through. Turn off the heat. Add the scallions and red peppers, and cool. In a bowl, whisk olive oil, red wine vinegar, and mustard until emulsified. Add salt, pepper, or additional oil or vinegar to taste. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and marinate for an hour or up to 24 hours.
I marinated it overnight and served it on top of a bed of arugula that was tossed with a little oil and vinegar.