Ratatouille with Polenta

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Ratatouille with Polenta. This is the first time I’ve made Ratatouille. I received a complimentary cookbook Famous Dishes from Around the World that has 30 traditional dishes from various places around the globe, countries in Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East. I picked French Ratatouille since there is such an abundance of vegetables this time of year, it makes a great summer dish. I changed a few things from the original recipe, for example the recipe had 10 cloves of garlic and I used 3, because I can’t handle too much garlic, as much as I like the flavor. I also used 2 cans of diced tomatoes rather than using marinara sauce and tomato paste. In any case it came out really good! I’ve had good and bad Ratatouille and this was definitely good. It tastes very fresh. 

I like the cookbook, it’s fun and all the recipes are fairly easy, and it has some cooking tips as well. I love all kinds of food so I think I would be happy to make any of these recipes. I want to try the Moroccan Tagine with Chicken next! Oh and It’s bilingual, each recipe is in English and Spanish, so if you’re learning either language you might enjoy this. The Ratatouille recipe here is vegetarian, but you could easily add some meat if you like. If you do add something like sausage, simply cook the meat first in the pot, then remove and add it in later with all the vegetables. Enjoy!

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Ratatouille

  • 1 large eggplant, 1” slices

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1 red onion, chopped

  • 10 cloves garlic, minced (I used 3 cloves of garlic)

  • 2 large beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1” cubes

  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced

  • 2 medium yellow squash, sliced

  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced

  • 3 bell peppers (red, green and yellow), cut 1” pieces

  • 2 14oz cans of diced tomatoes

  • 5 bay leaves

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil

  • 2 teaspoons fresh or dried oregano (or rosemary if you prefer)

  • 2 teaspoons fresh or dried thyme

  • Salt & pepper to taste

(Note: the original recipe cooks each vegetable separately in another pan, then added to the larger pot, I cooked everything in one pot and it worked out fine)

Place eggplant slices on paper towels and sprinkle slices with salt for one hour to make them sweat. Blot them dry with a paper towel. Cut into quarters.

In a large dutch oven cook the eggplant in some olive oil until about half way cooked. Add the onions, garlic and tomato to the pot, sauté a few minutes until soft. Add the zucchini, squash, mushrooms, peppers, adding more olive oil as needed. Cook for 5 more minutes or so. Stir in the cans of tomatoes and the herbs (save some basil for garnish). Cover the pot and cook for about 30 minutes on a very low heat, stirring every so often. 

While the Ratatouille is simmering prepare the Polenta.

Serves 6-8 (This completely filled my dutch oven and I could not add one more thing, so it makes quite a bit!)

Recipe adapted from Famous Dishes from Around the World: Healthy, Tasty, and Affordable

Polenta

  • 1 cup Polenta (I use Bob’s Redmill Polenta Corn Grits)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 cup chicken stock

Bring water, milk and chicken stock to a boil, stir in the polenta, then reduce heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes, then let it sit for a few more minutes until ready to serve.

Green Bean Salad with Mustard Seeds and Tarragon

Green on green on green. We’ve been eating more vegetarian meals for dinner lately. Sometimes with fish, others just vegetables and quinoa or rice. It’s been a while since I’ve looked through Ottolenghi’s Plenty, and it wasn’t hard to find something new right away. The book is front to back vegetarian dishes with amazing flavors. This recipe caught my eye because of the tarragon, I have so much tarragon growing in the garden and I don’t use it as often as I like. It works great in this salad as lemon and tarragon are a perfect match. 

I skipped the nigella seeds because it sounded like one of those expensive exotic spices I might only use once. But who knows it might taste really good, people cannot even agree on what the flavor actually is. We had this last night over a bed of quinoa and a drizzle of sriracha, I skipped the red chile so this added some heat. I’ve tweaked a few things here but overall this is a great salad.

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Green Bean Salad with Mustard Seeds and Tarragon

  • 1 1/4 cups green beans, trimmed
  • 2 1/4 cups snow peas, trimmed
  • 1 3/4 cups green peas, (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 teaspoon coriander seeds, roughly crushed with mortar and pestle (or 3/4 teaspoon ground)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds (huh?)
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 mild fresh red chile, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup baby chard leaves or pea shoots

In a small bowl place the finely chopped red onion and add the sherry vinegar (enough to cover onions) and allow to sit for 30 minutes or so. When ready drain the onions.

Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Prepare a large bowl with water and ice. Blanch the green beans for 4 minutes, then remove and place in ice bath. Drain and dry. Then blanch the snow peas for 1 minute, place in ice bath then drain and dry. Blanch the peas for 20 seconds, refresh, drain and dry. Place all the beans and peas in a large bowl.

Put the coriander seeds, mustard seeds and oil in a small saucepan and heat up. When the seeds begin to pop (after a few minutes) pour the mixture over the vegetables. Toss together and add nigella seeds, red onion, chile, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest and tarragon. Mix well and season with salt to taste. Before serving fold in the chard leaves, or top with pea shoots, or both! 

Adapted from Plenty