“M” is for MIXED VEGETABLE RECIPES . . .
Ratatouille’s signature ingredient is eggplant. Ratatouille can be eaten hot or cold, on its own, with meat, over cooked chicken breasts, over rice or pasta, or even in a burrito! Ratatouille gets better with age, so make it a day ahead. Since the recipe does make a large amount, you can make additional meals from the reserved 2 ½ – 3 cups of main mixture for pizza and quiche. Ratatouille freezes well.
Eggplant, any variety (1 pound +-)
1 – 2 zucchini
1 sweet green or red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups tomatoes, diced
1/8 tsp. thyme, oregano, and basil, or to taste
Pesto and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Wash and cut all of the vegetables into 1-inch cubes. Then in a large skillet, heat 2 TBSP of olive oil over low heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, pepper and garlic and cook 3 minutes more. Stir in the eggplant, spices, tomatoes, pesto and pepper. (Set aside 2 ½ – 3 cups of the mix for Tortilla Pizza and Ratatouille Quiche recipes which follow, if desired). Put Ratatouille mixture into a casserole dish, cover, and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. If desired, add 4 oz. Feta Cheese or black olives at this point. Stir. Cover and continue baking another 20 minutes.
OPTION: Add some green beans for variety.
If you reserve ½ cup of ingredients from the Ratatouille casserole mixture, you can make this appetizer pizza.
1 flour tortilla (burrito size)
3 heaping TBSP salsa
1/2 cup Provencal Ratatouille mix, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup shredded Mexican 4 cheese
4 TBSP sliced black olives
Place the tortilla on a pizza pan. Spread the salsa over the tortilla. Layer the Ratatouille mix, cheese and then the black olives. Bake at 425 degrees for 13 – 15 minutes ‘til cheese is melted or golden.
If you reserve 2 ½ cups of Ratatouille casserole mixture, you can make this quiche for another meal!
Take the 2 1/2 cups of mixture set aside from the Ratatouille and chop the ingredients into much smaller pieces. Set aside.
Bake a pie shell at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Prick shell, and bake 3 to 5 minutes more. Cool shell while mixing the following ingredients:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 TBSP cornstarch
1 1/2 cups Italian blended, shredded cheeses
Combine the milk, mayo, eggs, and cornstarch; mix until smooth. Add cheese. Stir in the 2 1/2 cups of the Ratatouille mixture. Pour entire mixture into pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until set. Consider using a pan shield the last 20 minutes of baking. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
TIP: You can easily make a pan shield for your quiche by taking a foil pie tin and cutting out a hole in the middle of it. Leave 1 – 1 1/2 of the bottom intact. The edges will be sharp so handle with care! When placed on top of a quiche or pie, this pan shield will keep the crusts from getting overly brown.
MIXED VEGGIE FRITTATA
Small onion, diced
About 2 cups sliced veggies, whatever combination you have available
8 – 12 eggs
Freshly ground pepper or red pepper flakes
On the stove in an ovenproof pan, sauté the onions in the olive oil for 5 – 6 minutes. Add thinly sliced veggies (zucchini, squash, kohlrabi, bell pepper, corn, anything you have on hand) and sauté another 6 minutes. Any vegetables which are pre-cooked leftovers, simply slice and add to the pan.
Whisk the eggs as if you were making an omelet. Add herbs to the mix, as desired. Pour the eggs over the veggies. As the eggs begin to cook, lift up the sides a bit to allow the raw portion to flow to the bottom and slightly cook as well.
Place the plan in the oven under the broiler and for about 2 – 3 minutes so the frittata cooks completely, browns slightly on top, and “puffs up.” Remove from the oven and divide into portions. Serve garnished with sliced tomatoes and sour cream.
OPTION: If you are in more of a hurry, and don’t want the “puffed look,” simply scramble and serve. Or fold over and make into an omelet.
OPTION : Fold tomatoes into the frittata
OPTION: Add 1 cup of coarsely chopped, loosely packed greens of any kind
OPTION: Add bacon, sausage, or prosciutto, if desired.
NOTE: Individual portions will freeze quite well making a quick breakfast treat or a healthy afternoon snack.
Veggie Sandwiches: Spread bread with real butter . Fill with thinly sliced radishes, onion, cukes, or a combination. Add freshly ground pepper & sea salt & eat! I have also seen diced raw veggies mixed with softened butter and spread on baguettes for a different take of this recipe.
SLOW COOKER TIPS
The following recipe is great for hot days when you want to keep the kitchen cool or busy days when you have other things to do besides cook. Crockery pots are energy efficient and the timing is flexible. It is also a great way to use up the veggie odds and ends in your refrigerator, because you can substitute at will.
TIP: Use any kind of protein—stew meat, chicken tenders, sliced chicken breast, chicken legs, a beef rump roast cut into strips, round steak cut into cubes, a boneless pork loin cut into cubes, or ground turkey, lamb, beef, pork, etc.
TIP: Chop veggies into consistent sizes for even cooking. Tender veggies (peas and greens) or strongly flavored veggies (broccoli or cauliflower) should be added during the last hour of cooking. If adding small quantities of frozen veggies, do so during the last 30 minutes.
TIP: Browning the meat in a skilled removes any fat, adds visual appeal and a rich braised flavor to the dish. Veggies can also be browned to add caramelized color and flavor, if desired.
TIP: For food safety NEVER mix raw or browned meat with veggies until you are ready to cook. (Just in case you decide to do some advance preparation!)
TIP: NEVER cook with frozen meat. Frozen veggies are ok, but not meat!
TIP: Add fresh herbs after your creation is taken off the heat.
TIP: Before serving garnish dishes with fresh tomatoes, nuts, citrus wedges, grated cheese, a dollop of sour cream, croutons, etc.
TIP: Thicken the juices during the last 5 minutes, if desired. Thickening agents vary; but cornstarch requires 2 TBSP dissolved in cold water for every 2 cups of liquid. Mix, pour into the crockery, and turn heat on high.
SLOW COOKER STEW
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
1 pepper, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 rutabaga, peeled and chopped
2 potatoes, unpeeled but scrubbed and chopped
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (or fresh ones if available)
¾ c. water
2 ½ lbs. protein—stew meat, chicken tenders, etc.
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
In a skillet brown the meat over medium-high heat and sauté the onion until translucent. Using a slotted spoon, transfer this mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add the other ingredients to the crock pot. Stir and cook on low or high (4 – 6 hours, stirring once halfway through, if you happen to be around) depending on your unique crock pot until the meat is done and the vegetables are tender.
Add fresh herbs. Serve alone or with brown rice or over split baked potatoes!
PUFF PASTRY AND VEGGIES
Filling a puff pastry with vegetables provides a different presentation and can be a unique way to handle leftovers—diced and placed on top of a roasted tomato base. Think of this as vegetable pizza with a top and a bottom! Or a healthy, veggie pocket!
GRILLED VEGETABLE LASAGNA
1 small eggplant
2 peppers: 1 red, 1 green
2 yellow squash
1 red onion
4 ounces shredded parmesan
4 ounces shredded mozzarella
6 ounces ricotta cheese
8 ounces frozen spinach (chopped)
1/4 cup olive oil
26 oz. jar of Marinara sauce
Wash vegetables; slice lengthwise to 1/8″ thick eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, onion. Cut peppers in half and seed. Marinate veggies in 1/4 cup olive oil for 10 minutes. Grill over open flame. Set veggies aside. In 8×10 pan layer grilled vegetables, marinara and three cheeses. Repeat until you reach the top of pan. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove cover and cook for another 15 minutes.
The key is to slime-less okra make sure you don’t cut or cook okra too long or it will become slimy. Although, I have had relative success with preparing slime-less okra by cutting off the stem really close to the stem—not going into the okra veggie.
Preparation: Wash okra. Leave the stem on. Depending on cooking method, season with pepper, lemon pepper, lime pepper, etc. as desired. Cook the whole uncut okra in one of the following methods. The exact time will depend upon the quality you are preparing. Using the stem as handle, pick up the okra and eat like a pickle! Or a fork works, too. Cut off the stem with a knife if you prefer, just before popping into your mouth!
Alternative One: Steam for 5-6 minutes. Add desired seasonings after steaming.
Alternative Two: Put them in the microwave for 1-2 minutes with a little water in a bowl.
Alternative Three: Saute okra slightly (3 – 4 minutes) in a medium-hot skillet with small amount of oil and seasonings.
Alternative Four: In a glass baking dish, place uncut okra. Drizzle with olive oil and roast at 425 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Roasting tends to eliminate the slime to the extent that you might consider even slicing the okra for this alternative. I would put some tomatoes into the mix, as well.
Alternative Five: If you want to slice the okra, roast in the oven in a 400 degree oven in a glass dish with diced tomatoes and lemon pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Toss frequently. Bake until the slime cooks away.
Note: Roasting the okra in this manner also means it can be frozen in air-tight freezer bags and used for soups and stews next winter. For those die-hard okra fans in the crowd.