Posts Tagged ‘Summer Produce’

Meatless Monday: Roasted Ratatouille

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Ratatouille Vegetables

I love all the flavors and vegetable involved in ratatouille (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini and onion) but I often don’t end up liking the dish when I eat out. There is a BIG range of texture issues with ratatouille it seems. Some restaurants barley cook the veggies, they are all too hard and the flavors are separate, not melded together. Others saute the veg for hours until they all blend together into a slimey mess and you can’t tell eggplant from zucchini. I decided to Goldy Locks this dish and make a recipe that was just right.

 

vegetables to be roasted

I diced the eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and onion into similar sized cubes and roasted them in a hot 400 oven. Meanwhile I sauteed the tomatoes and garlic to make a quick tomato sauce. When the vegetables were perfectly roasted, sweet with flavor but not too mushy, I tossed them with the quick tomato sauce and fresh basil. Then I cooled the dish and chilled it over night for maximum flavor! It turned out really well and I converted 2 former ratatouille haters over a game of Risk (sadly I lost the game.)

 

Quick Tomato Sauce

 

Drew and I lived off this dish for a whole weekend. We ate it cold for breakfast topped with poached eggs and brought it to a BBQ as a room temperature side dish. We warmed it and topped it with grilled chicken breasts the next night. I dreamt about spooning it onto thick slices of grilled bread rubbed with garlic, but alas it was all gone.

 

Roasted Ratatouille

 

Roasted Ratatouille

Serves 6-8

3 fat zucchini, diced into medium sized cubes

1 large eggplant, diced into medium sized cubes

1 large red onion, diced

3 small bell peppers, diced into medium sized cubes

3 springs of fresh thyme, leaves removed from the stems

4 large Roma tomatoes, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

Dash of red chili flakes (optional)

Olive Oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

10 leaves fresh basil, coarsely chopped

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and toss the zucchini, eggplant, pepper and onion chucks with lots of olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme leaves. Distribute in an even layer on the two baking sheets. Roast for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are fork tender and lightly browned on the edges. While the vegetables are roasting, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and saute the garlic over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the tomatoes are cooked down into a rustic sauce, add salt, vinegar and a dash of chili flakes. Stir well and continue to cook for 5-10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the roasted vegetables, gently stirring to coat each piece with tomato sauce. Allow the ratatouille to cool to room temperature and then add in the chopped fresh basil and taste for salt and pepper. Serve immediately or let chill overnight for maximum flavor. This dish tastes great warm, room temperature or cold.

 

 

Canal House Cooking

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All the beautiful pictures below are from Canal House Cooks Lunch, I want to dive into each photo.

pasta-with-pesto

Canal House is a duo of chefs who produce 3 stunning, elegant, rustic chic cookbooks a year. They write, illustrate and photograph their own books. This summer’s version is about Italian Summer cooking (or lack there off.) Perfect ingredients well seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil and fresh herbs is often all you need for a summer meal.

 

roast-beef-sandwich

Canal House Cooks Lunch

 

I’m loving a daily jolt of soft edged lunch delights on their blog Canal House Cooks Lunch.

 

cherry-tomatoes-and-fresh-mozerella

I can’t think of a better way to finish up these last weeks of summer produce than with some recipes from the latest installment from Canal House Cooking.

 

 

CHC-italian-summer-lg

 

PS- For a deeper dive into summer cooking in Italy, pick up a copy of the memoir Blood, Bones & Butter I recently devoured like it was a plate of fresh pasta tossed with garden pesto.

 

xo,
LEH

Meatless Monday: Squished Squash

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It’s Beach Week at A & O! Sarah is investigating the beaches in Fiji so we’re celebrating all things sand and sun. First up is a FABULOUS meatless addition to any summer dinner. Squished squash takes plain old yellow summer squash and turns it into a “pass the seconds” star of any dinner. Serve them along side grilled vegetables (or meat Tues-Sun), cold cucumbers doused in vinegar and fat slices of fresh tomato for an authentic Southern beach dinner.

 

Squished squash, tomato and cucumbers

This recipe comes from my mother in law, Janice Howerton, she learned it from her mother in law who learned it from her mother. A method more than a recipe for turning sweet and mild squash into a creamy pile of golden goo akin to mashed potatoes but lighter. We always have this dish on our Howerton-Ristine family beach vacation in North Carolina, usually twice because someone has to have it one more time before going home.

 

 Squished Squash

Beach Dinner 2010

 

I must warn you that Squished Squash is a vintage “non-recipe” that 3 generations of Howerton women have learned from cooking with each other and then “just made to taste”, not following any notes or recording amounts. Hopefully my written version will capture the same magic, don’t be afraid to just add more of this or that if you think it needs it.

 

Beach Dinner 2011

Beach Dinner 2011

 

Hope y’all enjoy it as much as we do!

 

Squished Squash-

Serves 6

 

8-10 yellow summer squash, cut into large cubes

2-5 tablespoons butter

2-5 tablespoons heavy cream

salt and pepper

 

Remove the top and bottom ends from the squash and cut into large chunks. Place into a large pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water and squash and bring to a boil. Cook until the squash are soft and pierce easily with a knife. Drain very well in a colander and return the squash to the pot and place over a low heat. Add 2 tablespoons each of butter and cream and mash it up well with a potato masher. Squash should be totally mashed, no visible chunks remaining. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Don’t be afraid to add more butter and cream if needed for flavor and texture, this is a Southern dish after all. Serve warm and with love.

 

xo,
LEH

Meatless Monday: Raw Kale Salad with Strawberries and Almonds

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Raw Kale Salad with Strawberries and Almonds

Sarah wanted to develop a summery version of our favorite raw Kale Salad with Apple and Currants to accompany our Memorial Day Picnic menu. She suggested we use strawberries and I added the creamy vegan basil dressing (originally developed as a dip for steamed artichokes). Grassy ribbons of kale+ sweet basil dressing= heaven. Tangy strawberries and crunchy almonds add sweetness and depth of flavor. Teamwork friends.

 

Raw Kale Salad with Strawberries

Raw Kale Salad with Strawberries and Almonds
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 bunch kale, cut into chiffonade
1 x Creamy Vegan Basil Vinaigrette, see recipe below
1-1/2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
¼ cup slivered almonds or pine nuts, lightly toasted
¼ cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade

Directions
Wash and dry kale ribbons.  Toss with basil vinaigrette 10-15 minutes before serving so kale has time to soften.  Arrange on serving platter then top with berries, almonds and fresh basil just before serving.

 

Creamy Vegan Basil Dressing

 

Creamy Vegan Basil Dressing
makes ¾ cup

Ingredients
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
10 grinds freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup basil
2 tablespoons Veganaise or mayo
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions
Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor or blender.  With mixer running, add olive oil in a slow steady stream until dressing is emulsified.  Keeps in refrigerator for about a week. Yay this salad got featured on the Meatless Monday site!

 

xo,
LEH

Meatless Monday: Fresh Tomato Sauce

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I must preface this post with a disclaimer: this is not the “proper” way to make tomato sauce nor is it the right way to “put them up” for winter. Proper tomatoes sauces call for removing the skins of the tomatoes and sterilizing jars and other such respectable actions. This is a fast and dirty way to eek some of that magical sun drenched summer produce into my winter meals. If you have an abundance of tomatoes in your garden or purchased a load of beauties this weekend, cracking with ripeness and begging to be used immediately, then this recipe is for you.

chopped heirloom tomatoes

Fresh Tomato Starter Sauce

10 lbs ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped (multi-colored heirloom tomatoes pictured)

2 tablespoons olive oil

6-8 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

10-15 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped

salt and pepper

Wash the tomatoes and remove the cores. Roughly dice and set aside. Mince the garlic cloves while warming the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium low heat. Add the garlic to the pot and stir for 2 minutes, being careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the tomatoes to the pot and stir until well coated in garlic and oil then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Allow the tomatoes to simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally until completely soft. Add the chopped fresh basil and allow to simmer covered for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool completely. Pulse the tomatoes with an immersion blender or in an upright blender until a chunky-smooth texture is reached. Pour into freezable containers in single dinner portion sizes (pasta sauce for 2 people requires about 1-1 1/2 cups of sauce.) Label and freeze.

simmering tomato sauce

For the next 6 months when you need a little hit of fresh tomato flavor you defrost the sauce in the fridge (pull it out of the freezer the night before you need it), add it to a pan with some sauteed onion and any extra seasoning you may want. Toss it with whole wheat pasta or spread it over roasted eggplant slices, top with mozzarella cheese and call it dinner.

tomato sauce for the freezer

Simple, healthy, and ecologically responsible as you will not be buying as many canned and shipped tomatoes this coming winter with this sauce in your freezer.

blender in the sink

xo,
LE

Fresh Fruit Centerpieces

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Sorry we’ve been away for a few weeks, Sarah got married! She had a beautiful ceremony and reception at the spectacular home of her parents, outside of Chicago. Sarah and I made the centerpieces for the reception tables.

She designed her wedding using a color palette of white, greens, pale pale pink and midnight. Summer fruit of white peaches, black plums and black mission and green kadota figs provided the perfect hues. Two days before the wedding we nestled the fruit on a bed of pale green moss atop mercury glass candy dishes.

Sarah added the black dahlias, assorted pink blooms as well as fresh blackberries the morning of the wedding. The arrangements were a hit among the guests. The mercury glass sparkled in the candle light and the fruit was a rustic and bountiful addition to each table.

No one died from eating the fruit off the arrangements (we super glued the fruit together) and only one arrangement light on fire from a nearby candle! Success.