Tag Archives: French

Pistou

It’s the peak of the summer harvest right now, which means it’s time to make pistou. What’s pistou? It’s the Spanish version of ratatouille, and is easier for me to spell. (Aren’t you glad you asked?) Anyways, whatever you call it, it is a classic Mediterranean summer dish filled with fresh veggies that is already vegetarian, so no modifications were needed.

It does call for a bit more of oil than I usually use, and while I’ve tried to cut it back, the eggplant becomes unhappy. And while I also try and cut back on longer prep steps, peeling and salting the eggplant is pretty necessary: otherwise, it can be bitter. By itself, it makes a nice but light dinner. The traditional Spanish way of serving this dish is to poach eggs in it just before serving. When I’m short on eggs, like this week, I add some plain Greek yogurt for protein or have a side of bread and cheese. My sister who first introduced me to ratatouille serves it over orzo and topped with parmesan or goat cheese. However you do it, it’s yummy and packed full of veggies.

Pistou

  • 1 large or 2 medium eggplant, peeleed and diced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 6 medium tomatoes, diced, or 2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • salt to taste
  • 4 eggs (optional)
  1. Put eggplant in a colander in the sink or over a bowl, salt generously and set aside for half an hour. When ready, throughly rinse the eggplant and shake off most of the excess water.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant and soft, about 1 to 2 minutes, then sprinkle with salt.
  4. Add the eggplant and cook until most of the oil is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add the zucchini and bell pepper, stir until coated and evenly mixed.
  6. Add the tomatoes, juice and and all, stir into the pot and bring to a simmer.
  7. Allow to simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes, and adjust salt to taste.
  8. If desired, crack one egg at a time into a mug, then gently pour into the pistou, taking care to not break the yolks.
  9. Poach until whites are set and yolks are at their desired hardness.
  10. Serve with 1 egg per bowl.

Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side.

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Beet and Beet Green Gratin

One of my favorite vegetables is the beet, and 90% of the time, I eat them boiled or roasted, sliced up and topped with a little salt. But, I’m trying to get out of a culinary rut, so I did a little Googling and came across this recipe for beet and beet green gratin from my beloved NY Times. The ingredients are simple so the beets really shine, is only 170 calories a serving, and makes great cold leftovers, which are my favorite. It served as a great light supper, but would also make a good side dish to roast chicken. Not surprisingly, I made a few tweaks to the recipe due to what was in my refrigerator and my innate laziness. The prep is a little time consuming, but but you can cook the beets and prep the greens a few days before.

Beet and Beet Green Gratin

  • 2 bunches beets (6-8 beets) with greens attached
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 ounces parmesan, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 1 bunch chives, minced
  • pinch of salt
  1. Cut greens off beets 1/4 in from the base, and set them aside. Roast beets in 400 F or boil until fork tender, ~30-45 minutes. Once beets have cooled, the skins should slide right off, remove top, then slice horizontally.
  2. Rinse greens, cut off and discard stems, and chop leaves coarsely. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, add garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, ~2-3 minutes. Add leaves, cover, and cook until tender, ~ 5 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F and lightly grease a 2 quart casserole. Combine last 5 ingredients, then fold in greens and beets.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until dish is set and golden brown on top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6.

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Fennel

Earlier today, I was asking myself why I publish recipes for less than common vegetables. I realized that I got into CSAs and farmers markets at first because the produce was soooo good, way better than what I was used to. After a while, I realized that I was eating a lot more fruits and vegetables but spending less on them than I would a the grocery store. Now, this isn’t true for every farmers market, but it is for a lot of them. And a big part of eating this way is that what you have available is only what is in season, which often forces farmers to expand their repertoire beyond broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes and lettuce, into other types that aren’t usually available at the supermarket.

One such vegetable that I’ve discovered through the my CSA is fennel. At first, I put it solidly in the weird boy category, but now I’ve got a few ways to prepare it in my repertoire, and they never let me down. My favorite is roasted, which isn’t surprising: it’s hard to go wrong with olive oil and garlic. Regardless it’s delicious, good for you, and highly affordable from your friendly local farmer.

Roasted Fennel

  • 1 ½ lbs fennel bulbs, thinly sliced (reserve the fronds)
  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine all ingredients, and toss to coat. Spread on foil lined cookie sheet or 9 x 13 casserole.  Cook for 20 to 40 minutes, until fennel is fork tender. Serves 4. This is also delicious with 1/2 cup parmesan sprinkled over the top before putting in the oven.

Fennel and Orange Salad

  • 1 ½ lbs fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
  • 1 large orange, peeled, separated and membranes removed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Serves 4.

Fennel Pesto

  • 1 bunch fennel fronds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ to ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup shredded good parmesan
  • salt to taste

Put fennel fronds and garlic in a food processor. While it’s running, slowly pour in olive oil until desired texture is reached. Fold in cheese, and add salt to taste. Toss with pasta, dip bread in it, etc. I’ve even put it on a pizza, topped with more parmesan and slices of tomatoes.

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Mediterranean Lentils

Today, I was reading a column in the NY Times about the challenges of going vegan. While, I’m not vegan, as a vegetarian, I have to disagree with a lot of the so-called challenges mentioned in the article. There is absolutely no need to shop at vegan-only stores or buy expensive fake meat. All my food options are available at farmer’s markets and regular grocery stores, and I spend a whopping $100 a month for this. My food philosophy is the simpler, the better, and as a result, I shop mostly on the “edges” of my grocery store. The vegan parts of my diet focuses on fruits and veggies (fresh, frozen, canned and dried), nuts, rice, and beans. In case you haven’t walked down the bean aisle lately, dried beans are incredibly cheap (usually less than $2 per pound), make a ton (I can get 16 servings out of a bag) and are naturally high in fiber and protein. A serious downside of cooking with dried beans, is, well, cooking them. Most of them take an hour or more to cook, and not everybody has the time to deal with that.

That’s where my love for lentils really began, since a pot of lentils cooks up in only 20 minutes or so. Also, by serving, they are higher in protein than most other beans. With their smaller size, they don’t suffer from that bean-y texture that a lot of people dislike. Finally, they do great with flavors from a large variety of cultures. This version I think of as my Mediterranean recipe. I serve it along side Greek salads, throw it into marinara to add a protein punch to my spaghetti sauce, and it’s perfectly welcoming to all kinds of root vegetables: potatoes, carrots, celery, fennel, beets, parsnips and turnips. If you want to make it into soup, add 2 more cups of vegetable broth.

Mediterranean Lentils

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 in ginger, minced
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 cups vegetable broth

Heat vegetable oil in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant and soft, about 5 minutes. Add lentils and cook for an additional minute or two, until they are shiny. Add vegetable broth, bring to a simmer, then cook covered until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. If the cooking liquid gets too low, add more vegetable broth or water. Serves 4.

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