Ratatouille with Coconut Curry Sauce

I feel bad calling myself a cooking enthusiast since I had not even heard of ratatouille until I saw the Disney movie. After seeing a rat prepare it, I thought, “I could do that.”

Coconut Curry Ratattoile (12)

But then, a lot of time went by. (A LOT of time. I just checked, and that movie was released in 2007 – yikes!)

So seven years later, I got my act together and made a decision to prepare this undoubtedly delicious meal for my in-laws, who were visiting from New York. I learned the basic gist of the recipe, and I was only feeling a little apprehensive about being able to pull it off.

But then, I was totally sidelined. The power of suggestion is absurdly effective. One second, I am happily going about my day thinking about trees and flowers (not really, just trying to make a point here), and the next, I see a commercial for pizza and suddenly, that is ALL I WANT.

As I was preparing for ratatouille-making, a friend happened to mention having had a delicious coconut curry dish at lunch.

Well. I’ll be damned. I LOVE coconut curry.

Coconut Curry Ratattoile (14)

So, since I was already feeling overwhelmed by the recipe, I made an effortless decision to swap out the sauce for a coconut curry tomato sauce.

I’ll tell you – it was an amazing decision. This dish does not disappoint, and was a hit with my in-laws (at least that’s what they told me) 🙂

Quick Disclaimer: If you don’t own a mandolin, this recipe is still possible to make – it just might drive you crazy. Make sure you have a sharp knife, at the very least!

Coconut Curry Ratattoile (13)

What You Need for the Ratatouille:

  • 1 medium zucchini squash, ends cut off
  • 1 medium summer squash, ends cut off
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 each red bell pepper, green bell pepper and yellow bell pepper, tops cut off and de-seeded but still bell-shaped
  • 2 cups dry Jasmine or white rice

What You Need for the Coconut Curry Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalepeno, minced (seeded if desired)
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced (powdered ginger will also work fine)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes and their juices (this is equal to 3 1/2 cups diced tomatoes if you wish to stay away from canned foods)
  • 1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Coconut Curry Ratattoile (3)

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

In a large wok or skillet, pour in the olive oil and lightly simmer the onion, garlic, jalepeno and fresh ginger until soft. (If you only have powdered ginger, add it later).

Add the tomatoes and curry powder (also add ginger powder if using).  Turn heat up to bring to a slight boil and stir well.

Add the coconut milk and sugar, stirring well. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.

Set aside, but keep warm on low heat.

Using a mandolin, thinly slice all of your vegetables. As I said, if you don’t have a mandolin, you can get away with cutting everything by hand. Try to make very thinly-sliced pieces. Thicker pieces really only impact how long the dish will take to cook.

Layer the vegetables in alternating order along the bottom of a large baking dish or dutch oven. Each time you complete a layer, spoon about 1 cup of the still-hot coconut curry tomato sauce over the veggies.

Continue layering and alternately pouring with sauce until the veggies have been used up. Depending on the size of your baking dish, you may find you have vegetables left over. This is ok! They make great snacks, after all!

Pour remaining sauce over the top, gently poking apart the vegetables to let it seep through.

Coconut Curry Ratattoile (4)  Coconut Curry Ratattoile (5)  Coconut Curry Ratattoile (9)

Cover, and place the whole concoction into the oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and are easily pierced with a fork. You may find it takes slightly longer depending, again, on the size of your baking dish and thickness of your layers.

While the dish is baking, cook your rice according to package directions.

When everything is ready, serve the ratatouille over the rice and enjoy! It’s where French cuisine meets Indian cuisine, right? Bon’ appetite!

Coconut Curry Ratattoile (15)

 

Pro Tip: If you have leftovers and want to re-purpose the meal to try and pull a fast one on your family, simply pulse the ratatouille (without the rice) in a food processor with a small amount of vegetable broth to turn it into soup! Make it as chunky or pureed as you desire, and add the rice after for some additional texture.

Advertisements

Spanish Rice Baked Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes

Stuffed Tomatoes (6)

Do you KNOW how many recipes there are in the world for stuffed tomatoes where the stuffing is nothing more than breadcrumbs and some salt and pepper? I’m sure it’s delicious, really. You could put bread product in basically any food and I’d eat it for days. But I feel like I couldn’t quite get away with serving mostly breadcrumbs to Mike for dinner.

Stuffed Tomatoes (13)

Besides – there are so many awesome ways to stuff a tomato, right? I was going to do quinoa and kale for this recipe, but got to thinking about other grains and other dishes and remembered suddenly how much I loved Spanish Rice when my mother would make it when I was a kid. (If my mother is reading this, I want to be candid that I do realize I could be remembering this incorrectly and perhaps I did not love it as a kid, but I certainly consider it a food that I recall eating as a kid and enjoy eating today. So same thing, right?)

I also wanted to share this adorable farm stand that I discovered while running to work one day. (These are the perks of not driving – I tend to pay more attention to what’s going on around me). Check this out:

 

Stuffed Tomatoes (14)

This person keeps a little bucket near the veggies for your money and it’s completely an honors-system operation. I love it. So I got a few of the tomatoes for this meal from this little stop on my way home.

Stuffed Tomatoes (18)

This dish is super yummy and has the added benefit of providing probably all the lycopenes a person needs for a successful week! The rice you use is completely up to you. I used Jasmine because as I have mentioned it is by far my favorite type of rice, but I imagine a wild or brown rice would also be spectacular in this dish.

What You Need:

  • 5-7 medium red tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes if you can get your hands on them
  • 1 small onion, chopped OR 1/2 of a medium-large onion, chopped
  • 2 small garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 small or 1/2 of a large red or green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1-8oz can diced tomatoes in their juices
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp cilantro (finely chopped fresh or ground)
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

What You Do:

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Bring the vegetable broth to boiling in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the rice. Cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes or until liquid is gone and rice is cooked.

While the rice is cooking, heat a 2 tsp olive oil in a medium skillet and add the chopped onion, garlic, jalapeno (if using) and bell peppers. Stuffed Tomatoes (2)

Let simmer, stirring frequently, until softened and cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Take your tomatoes and using a small paring knife, slice off just the very top to remove the stem area.

Cut in a circle around the perimeter of the inside of the tomato, basically hulling out the middle stem part and goopy insides, being careful not to slice into the body of the tomato or through the bottom.

Using a spoon, scoop out the insides and carefully clean around the inside to open up a nice space for filling, still being careful not to cut into or damage the body of the tomato.

Arrange the hollowed-out tomatoes in a large baking dish with a small amount (1/4 cup) of water in the bottom.

        Stuffed Tomatoes (3)          Stuffed Tomatoes (9)

Combine the onion mixture with the rice mixture, and add the diced tomatoes and chopped cilantro, and stir up well to make the stuffing. Add salt and pepper and mix again.

Using a tablespoon, scoop the stuffing into the hollowed-out insides of each tomato, packing it down and letting extra stuffing flow out the top of the tomatoes.

Combing the panko breadcrumbs and shredded Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over each tomato.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the tomatoes are pinched and the breadcrumbs begin to brown.

Add more water to the bottom of the baking dish if necessary after about 20 minutes.

Enjoy!!

Stuffed Tomatoes (12)

Pro Tip: As noted above, I think this would be marvelous with another rice such as wild or brown! Also, in a pinch you can use salsa instead of diced tomatoes and just add less garlic and probably nix the cilantro.

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Yogurt Chicken (14)

I love guilt-free dinners more than probably anything. It justifies me eating more of it than is likely acceptable, and topping off that meal with a hefty portion of Ben & Jerry’s Late Night Snack. If you haven’t tried that kind, but have a potential affinity for chocolate-covered potato chips enveloped in vanilla ice cream and creamy caramel, then go pick a pint up right now. I’m not kidding.

Anyways, back to the food.

Yogurt Chicken (8)

This is super good. And if you don’t want to eat your sandwich fillings between crispy lettuce leaves, just use bread and put the lettuce on as a topping. BUT IT’S NOT AS FUN! 🙂

Yogurt Chicken (11)

What You Need:

  • 6-8 large, full Romaine lettuce leaves
  • 6-8 thin boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

What You Do:

Cook the chicken in a medium pan with a tbsp of olive oil, covered, flipping after 5 minutes. Remove when cooked through and while it’s still moist – we don’t want dry chicken!

Slice and chop the chicken into tiny pieces. Put in a large bowl. Yogurt Chicken (7)

In a small saucepan on low heat, slowly toast the pecans, stirring in the pan frequently to keep them moving and keep them from burning. They’ll start to smell pretty pungent when they’re almost done. Be careful not to burn them.

Add the pecans, chopped cranberries, celery, scallions, salt and pepper to the chicken and mix thoroughly.

Add Greek yogurt and mix well.

Add the tarragon and mix well.

Place on lettuce leaves and wrap, and enjoy!

 

Pro Tip: Add a dab of honey mustard before wrapping these babies up for a little zing.

 

Thai Peanut Tofu Stirfry with Kale

IMG_4090

For the FIFTH (but let’s face it, certainly not final) day of Five Days of Farmer’s Market Meals, I give you a ridiculously easy but totally delish vegetable explosion in a pan.

For the fact that I have this crazy amount of kale in my backyard, I realize I haven’t made nearly enough kale-involved recipes this week. So I’m making up for it right now.

Zukes (10)    Zukes (6)    IMG_4096

I have a not-so-secret addiction to Thai food – particularly Tofu Pad Thai. But a long time ago I decided it was silly to keep buying it when the ingredients are really so super simple. However, I’ve never been able to give my tofu that golden crispiness, probably because I cook them in oil and not in a fry-o-lator 🙂

This dish is a farmer’s market-friendly spin on Pad Thai, with homemade everything. Sometimes I make these meals to ensure I will have a lunch in the fridge at work the next day that I truly look forward to eating. No shame in that!

The Farmer’s Market ingredients used in this recipe are:

  • Kale (from my garden)
  • Garlic scapes
  • Red and green peppers
  • Bean sprouts
  • Scallions

IMG_4089

What You Need for the Stir Fry

  • 1 bunch kale (about 15 leaves) hand shredded
  • 1 package firm tofu, cut into small squares
  • 2 garlic scapes, chopped into small rounds
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch bean sprouts, cut into 1-inch strands

What You Need for the Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger root, grated
  • red pepper flakes, to taste (about 1-2 tsp)

 

What You Do:

To make the peanut sauce, simply combine all ingredients. Easy!

Set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat a tbsp of olive or coconut oil and cook the tofu, covered, stirring often. It will be done when the tofu begins to brown and stick slightly to the pan.

IMG_4093

In a large wok or skillet, heat the olive or coconut oil and add the scallions. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until soft.

Add garlic scapes, cook for about 2 minutes. Add peppers, stir and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the tofu and kale. Stir and cook for about 5-8 minutes or until the kale is soft.

Pour the peanut sauce over the tofu stir fry, mix well, and serve topped with bean sprouts, or add the bean sprouts into the mix just before serving.

Pro Tip: Substitute the tofu for chicken, beef or shrimp if desired. Also, you can spice up this dish quite a bit by adding some chopped jalapeno or serrano pepper.

Zucchini, Tomato and Corn Gratin

Zukes (20)

Ah zucchini.

I like squash a lot. I really do. But I’m at that point in the summer when, to be honest, the level of squash present in my life is getting to be slightly overwhelming. Not only am I harvesting a small bumper crop in my backyard, but I for some reason keep thinking that purchasing additional summer squash at the farmer’s market is a good idea.

Zukes (12)

One of my zucchini plants, going strong.

So the chain of events is as follows: Buy fresh squash at the FM –> feel compelled to use said fresh squash before it goes bad  –> neglect picking the actively-growing squash in my garden –> end up with giant backyard squash.

Zukes (13)

 

This isn’t even the biggest one. My latest monster creation is at LEAST 3 Hershey’s bars long, and probably half of one in width.

So Mike has been subjected to an onslaught of zucchini recipes lately, which have included zucchini bread, zucchini pizza boats, and zucchini-topped pizza, and this is basically fine as he doesn’t mind squash. (But he might after this summer!) I’m still fine with it too, but the ongoing challenge is cooking it in different ways so we don’t get sick of it.

You don’t have to love squash to like this dish, though. It is really very good. This recipe post reflects a few changes that I would most certainly employ if I cook this again, which I will, so don’t lose faith in me if you feel the photos don’t quite do it justice.

The farmer’s market/my garden ingredients used in this meal are:

  • Zucchini and Summer Squash
  • Corn on the cob
  • Onion
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic

What You Need:

Zukes (14)

  • About a pound of zucchini and summer squash sliced into thin rounds (I used a mandolin for this)
  • 1 1/2 cups panko or your favorite bread ground up to make breadcrumbs
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 corn on the cob, with corn sliced off the cob
  • 1 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced thin (I also used a mandolin for this)
  • Salt
  • Olive or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

 

What You Do:

The Squash

Preheat oven to 350F

Here’s an important step you should never, ever ignore when cooking squash, but I always do anyways. Salt your squash to help remove moisture. This will help it cook better and faster, and overall just taste better.

So, toss your squash rounds with 1-2 tsp salt and set aside in a colander to let it drain (about 10 minutes).

After, lay the slices out on a VERY LIGHTLY oiled baking sheet, and place in the oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until the slices look slightly translucent and soft.

Leave the oven on since the whole dish needs about 10 minutes in there at the end.

The Filling

Warm a tbsp of olive or coconut oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. When hot, place onion slices in and cover, letting the onions caramelize. Remove them when they smell sweet and look translucent with just a touch of brown.

Gently toss your corn with a tiny bit of salt, black pepper and olive or coconut oil, and mix with the caramelized onions.

The Topping

Melt the 2 tbsp of butter over low heat.

In a small bowl, mix your grated cheese and panko, adding a sprinkle of salt and black pepper.

Pour the melted butter into the panko mixture, add the minced garlic and stir it up.

The Finale

Line a baking dish with the cooked squash and raw tomato slices, alternating as you go. After you have one layer down, sprinkle some of your onion and corn mixture over it.

Zukes (17)     Zukes (16)

Add more squash and tomato slices, covering them with onions and corn each time you have a new layer, until both toppings are gone.

Top the entire dish with the panko mix.

Place in the oven for 10 minutes or until the topping starts to brown and the tomato juices are bubbling. Then – enjoy!

Zukes (19)

 

Pro-Tip: I would recommend making this a wild rice gratin to replace the panko and make it a gluten-free meal. Cook up some wild rice, mix it with an egg and the onions and corn and cheese. Put it on the bottom of the pan and line the tomato and squash on top. Sprinkle with some additional cheese. There ya go!

Sesame-Ginger Vegetable Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts, Lemon-crusted Haddock and a Side Salad

Egretti (7)

For my third day of Five Days of Farmer’s Market Meals, I made a smorgasbord (kinda) in order to get a better handle on my overflowing crisper drawer.

But I succeeded in using a lot of vegetables, and everything went together pretty nicely in the end! This recipe makes for a delightful little summery meal, and it’s got a couple completely different ingredients in it that really give it a unique flavor.

You likely won’t be able to find the same exact stuff at your market, but I address that in the ingredients list.

The farmer’s market ingredients used in this meal are:

  • Agretti
  • Culinary celery
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Scallions
  • Wild-caught local haddock from the fish guy

I’d like you to meet two of my new favorite veggies: Agretti and Culinary Celery

Egretti (1)     Egretti (3)

What is Agretti? Agretti is a Mediterranean water-retaining plant that looks like it should taste like grass but is actually DELICIOUS and can be used in basically anything, including raw in salads, omelets, or sprinkled over pasta (which is how I would have used it had I not just made pasta. Poor planning!)

Culinary Celery will blow your mind if you don’t like celery, but will especially blow your mind if you don’t like parsley. This awesome vegetable creation is a divine marriage of the two that tastes just perfect and doesn’t have that often overwhelming flavor you get with celery and/or parsley.

Agretti can be tough to find unless you know a farmer or market that grows Mediterranean-type veggies, but if you want to try and use something similar, people claim dandelion greens come close-ish.

As for culinary celery, I’ve never seen this before but you might ask around for it. Otherwise, adding a tiny bit of both celery and parsley together would be fine just to get that flavor.

ALSO – NEVER FEAR! This dish is perfect without either of these things! It’s the sesame-ginger sauce that really brings it all together 🙂

Egretti (5)

What You Need for the Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa cooked according to package directions
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup finely chopped culinary celery
  • 1-2 cups roughly chopped agretti
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup finely chopped cucumber

What You Need for the Sesame-Ginger Dressing

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or substitute with honey)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch red pepper or chili flakes to taste

 

What You Need for the Lemon-Crusted Haddock

  • 2 meyer lemons, cut into slices
  • 1/4 cup shredded parm
  • 1/4 cup panko (or your favorite bread ground up in a food processor)
  • Haddock

Egretti (2)

What You Do

Add the shredded veggies and chopped walnuts and whole cranberries to the quinoa in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add sesame dressing, mix well, and set aside in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour, if you can wait. This dish is good both hot and cold.

While the quinoa salad is chilling, sprinkle the haddock with fresh lemon.

Mix together the shredded parm and panko, and gently dip the lemon-doused haddock in to lightly cover the fish, or sprinkle the mixture over the fish if picking it up isn’t really an option.

Bake, grill or pan-fry the haddock until cooked. Serve alongside the quinoa salad with a mixed-green salad on the side if desired! I made a quick salad with leftover agretti, spinach leaves and chopped scallions.

Egretti (6)

 

 

Buttery Farro-Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

For day 2 of my Five Days of Farmer’s Market Meals, I’m bringing in the squash. You just don’t have summer without squash! A couple of summers ago, I bought my first patty pan squash at – per usual – the advice of the farmer who sold it to me.

IMG_4501

I couldn’t get over how cute these squashes are. I just envisioned Mike and myself sitting down with our individual squashes for a nice little personalized squash dinner.

Anyways, I can’t resist buying them as soon as they’re available and serving up personal patty pan squashes. They’re perfect.

The farmer’s market ingredients used in this dish are:

  • Patty pan squashes
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Yellow onion
  • Green bell peppers
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Garlic

IMG_4499

Preheat oven to 350F

What You Need:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or cooking oil of your choice)
  • 1 cup farro seeds
  • 2 large or 4 small patty pan squashes
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (green, yellow, red–doesn’t matter)
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper, finely chopped (or hot pepper or your choice) – Optional
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/4 cup shredded fresh parm
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 or 1 tbsp butter for each squash you’re making (amount depends on the size of the squashes) – Optional but highly recommended!

What You Do:

Rinse the cup of farro seeds and drain cloudy water. In a medium saucepan, bring the farro and 3 cups of water to a boil. Keep covered and lower heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the seeds have fully expanded and taste slightly chewy (but not hard!)

At the same time, boil about an inch of water in a large pot. Add whole patty pan squashes and cover. The squashes will steam cook this way, and are ready when you can easily pierce them with a fork.

While the farro and squashes are cooking, heat coconut oil in a large skillet and add the minced garlic.

IMG_4491

After about 1 minute, add onion and gently stir until translucent. Then add green pepper and cayenne pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.

Once farro is done, combine with the onion mixture and stir thoroughly. Add cherry tomatoes and stir. Then add the walnuts or pecans and stir.

When the squashes are done, gently slice off just the tops. Then, use a spoon, melon baller or – like me – an ice cream scoop, to gently carve out the insides, being careful to remove all the seeds but not too much of the squash. It’ll be pretty watery, so feel free to just hold them upside down over the sink to drain them out.

IMG_4489       IMG_4493       IMG_4494

Now comes the fun part. Place the squashes in a baking dish and fill each squash with the farro mix, packing each spoonful down to fit as much as you can. I just let them overflow over the sides.

Next, top each squash with a butter patty, and then cover each squash with the diced tomatoes, and sprinkle the shredded parm on top.

Bake for about 10 minutes in the oven to get it hot and melt the cheese.

Then, just scoop out the squashes for everyone’s individual serving! It’ll be a hit!

IMG_4496

 

 

Pro Tip: Make this with quinoa! Coucous! Risotto! Other rices! Add meat! You can make it any way you want.