Day 17 – Excuse My French

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Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille

Today is a beautiful day in Germany. It’s warm and sunny and perfect for country cooking. We don’t have a/c around here, so July and August can be a little sticky. Naturally, that means we cleaned out the refrigerator. At least that’s cold, right? Well, any of the good we did for ourselves was immediately erased when I started cooking up a storm. I’ve cooked 4 stove top dishes and 4 oven dishes. It turns out, cleaning out the fridge reminds us of all of the veggies we have to use before they end up in the compost. We figured we had to use our endive, fennel, eggplant, tomatoes, and hot peppers. So I had some inspiration!.I started with two batches of banana oat bars for energy during the week, sliced up a bunch of raw veggies, made some broiled endive, went to a warm fennel pear salad, created a salt free hot pepper sauce, then chopped up some pico de gallo.

But I still had to make lunch. The Fennel and Pear salad (recipe below) was more a side, it needed a main and I still needed to use that eggplant. The warm salad is white. I wanted some color. I wanted something that reflected our rare, beautiful weather! Naturally, it’s perfect day for some provencal cooking. Ratatouille just a perfect mix of colors and flavors and you can chop the veggies up quick. It’s usually stewed, but we were hungry and stew is more wintery. We decided to try this version of more of a mix of roasted veggies. Hope you love it!

Recipes

  • Banana Oat Bars (recipe here)
  • Warm Fennel and Pear Salad (below)
  • Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille (below)

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Warm Fennel and Pear Salad

  • 2 Small Bulbs Fennel sliced (learn how to prep fennel here)
  • 1/2 Onion diced
  • 1 Lg Pear chopped
  • 1/8 c. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/8 c. Golden Raisins
  • dash of Cinnamon

In a pan, heat a layer of water to water sauté onions. When they start to brown, add fennel. When they are nice and soft, throw in pear and stir until they start to caramelize. Keep cooking for a couple minutes (pears shouldn’t be soft). Add Vinegar and stir. Add raisins and cinnamon, combine, cook for a couple of minutes and serve.

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Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille – The key to this is to cook each of the veggies separately to maintain their unique flavor. I combine the eggplant and the zucchini, but if you want to be a rule follower, you can cook them separately, too.

  • 1 Eggplant cubed
  • 2 -4 Potatoes cubed (should make about 2 cups)
  • 1 Zucchini cubed
  • 1 Onion chopped
  • 1 Bell Pepper (Red or Yellow) chopped
  • 3-6 Cloves Garlic to taste
  • 2 c. Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Greens (Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Kale, or Chard)
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 Tsp Herbs de Provence (If you can’t buy it, find a recipe here)
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 Tsp Garlic and Herb Salt Free Seasoning
  • 2 Sprigs Rosemary
  • 1/4 c. Basil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl, combine zucchini and eggplant. Add 1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence, Garlic Powder, and 1 Tsp Garlic and Herb salt free seasoning. Mix them with the vegetables. Add the lemon juice (may need a little more) and mix. Let sit for at least 5 min or until the oven is ready. Spread out potatoes on the lined pan and spangle with 1 Tsp Herbs de Provence and 1 Tsp Garlic and Herb salt free seasoning and bake about 10 minutes or until they start to brown. When they are out, pull them off the pan with a spatula and set aside. Now, spread eggplant and zucchini out on the pan and bake about 10 minutes or until they start to brown and are a little dry. You may need to use your broiler if it won’t brown. You want these good and roasted.

In a pan, heat a layer of water to water sauté onions. When they start to brown, add garlic, bell pepper, and remaining spices (1 tbsp Herbs de Provence, and 1 Tbsp Garlic and Herb). When they are all cooked, add greens until cooked, but still green. Add tomatoes, stir for about 1 minute, then add roasted veggies. Mix all together, crumbling sprigs of rosemary and mixing in. After you plate it, sprinkle shredded basil on top. If you are serving this to a group (and you should because it’s beautiful), the basil can be added to the serving dish.

Note on Herbs de Provence: This is a mix of herbs commonly grown in southern France. It’s a great way to get a shortcut to French rustic flavor. We live very close to the French border, so it’s an easy mix for us to find. It’s also easy to make! The actual mix and proportions depends on the cook, who sometimes adds lavender or other flavors to their liking. I linked to a recipe, but you can do a web search for it and find about as many recipes as you can imagine. Play with it if you like it and find your perfect mix. You can use it on chicken or roasted veggies or mixed into a vinaigrette for a salad. Just try it and see if you don’t feel just a little closer to the beautiful French countryside!

Gentleman Update– As of today I have lost 17 pounds, 3 inches around my waist and no inches in height. I feel sharper, look leaner, feel as fast and strong as I did as a young PsyOp soldier. For our militarily inclined readers results may vary however (comma), I have only lost .5 inches off my neck which is largely due to being a terrible wrestler in high school.

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