What’s Cooking Wednesday: Ratatouille

2013 soybeans, landscape

Ratatouille may roll off the tongue, but it’s not that easy to spell – I hardly ever get it right on the first try. Fortunately, this recipe is much easier to make than spell.

Eggplant is the star of this delicious combination of vegetables sauteed to perfection in a tasty tomato-based sauce. Ratatouille can be a great side dish or center piece for lunch or dinner.

My version of ratatouille is ‘low fuss.’ I use one skillet & cook it on the stove top – no need to heat up the oven & just one pan to clean! The veggies are added one at a time, so while one is cooking you can slice/dice the next one.

Also, the measurements for this recipe DO NOT have to be exact. Add more or less of anything to suit your taste.

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Ratatouille

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup sliced & quartered eggplant (peel if desired)
  • 1 cup sliced & quartered zucchini (and/or yellow summer squash)
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce or tomato juice

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on low for a minute or two
  2. Add diced onion and saute over medium heat until they start to turn translucent. Add garlic, basil & oregano.
  3. Add eggplant and saute until it starts to soften, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add zucchini and saute until it starts to soften, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add diced tomato and tomato sauce/juice. Stir and cook until eggplant starts to turn translucent and sauce thickens.
  6. Serve hot.

Makes about 1 cup.

Fun fact: Did you know that the vegetable we call ‘eggplant,’ the British call ‘aubergine’? I learned that recently while talking with an acquaintance from across the pond.

Have you come across any unique or unusual names for food?

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What’s Cooking Wednesday: Homemade Applesauce

vegetables

Today’s recipe is so simple I hesitate to even call it a recipe: 2 ingredients & a little time are all it takes to make delicious homemade applesauce.

My parents have 6 apples trees, so growing up we had an abundant supply of apples and fresh applesauce was frequently on the menu in the fall and winter.

Applesauce is a great way to use some apples that may be a little past their prime – ones that are bruised or starting to wrinkle. You probably won’t see anything like that in the apples you buy at the store, but at an orchard you can probably buy what they call “seconds.”

Seconds are apples that are less than perfect visually – maybe not be ones you want to slice & eat fresh, but they are good for cooking & baking…including homemade applesauce! Of course you could use the better looking apples, too. You will just pay a little more for them because they’re pretty.

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Homemade Applesauce

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium apples
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  1. Peel and chop your apples using your preferred method. I just use a knife for a small number – but you could use a fancy crank peeler or even chop your apples in a food processor.
  2. Pour 1/4 cup of water in a medium sauce pan
  3. Add your chopped apples & cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until apples chunks are soft (my small batch of 5 apples took about 30 minutes, a larger batch would take longer).
  4. Remove from heat & mash with a potato masher. You can also run it through a blender for smoother applesauce. I like mine “rustic” & slightly chunky.
  5. Serve warm or cold. Add cinnamon if desired. You could also add sugar, but I think the fruit is sweet enough all by itself.
  6. Store in the refrigerator. Can also be frozen for later.

5 apples = about 1 cup of applesauce

Tips:

  • Apple Varieties: sweet varieties like Yellow Delicious, Jonathon’s & Galas make good applesauce. I would avoid some of the tarter varieties like Red Delicious & Granny Smith.
  • You can really use as many apples as you want, just use a bigger pan. You will only need 1/4 cup of water even for a large batch. The water just keeps the apples from sticking to the bottom of the pan until they start to cook down and release some juices.

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Zucchini Stacks

2013 soybeans, landscape

Layers of veggies in a tasty cheese sauce make this a perfect late summer side dish to pair with pretty much anything. And as a bonus it’s super easy to make!

This is a recipe I grew up eating with veggies fresh from our home garden. My mom always called this ‘Zucchini Side Dish’ but I decided to label it ‘Zucchini Stacks’ because I think it’s a little better description what your dish will look like.

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Zucchini Stacks

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium green zucchini, sliced in thin rounds (about 1/4″ thick)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced in thin rounds (about 1/4″ thick)
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, sliced in rings
  • 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
  • About 9 slices of American or mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. basil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 8 x 8 glass baking dish.
  3. Fill the bottom with zucchini slices (use the bigger slices for the bottom). Usually about 9 slices, but it depends on the size of your zucchini.
  4. Add an onion slice, then a tomato slice and then a green pepper ring on top of each zucchini slice.
  5. Sprinkle with garlic, basil & flour.
  6. Place 1/2 a slice of cheese on each stack.
  7. Add a second layer of veggies: zucchini, onion, tomato, pepper & then a second 1/2 slice of cheese.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes until veggies are fork tender and cheese is golden brown.
  9. Serve your stacks & enjoy!

As it cooks, the juices from the vegetables combine with the flour, spices and melted cheese to make the tasty sauce.

What main dish will you pair it with?