Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ratatouille and Pearsnip Loaves

I've been feeling adventurous in the kitchen the last couple days, and successes have come forth! That's always nice, especially when I have to face the mountain of dishes once the last bite has been devoured.

So, here are two completely unrelated things I've made: (sorry I don't have pix... just trust me, they're delicious!)

First off, last night's dinner-- Ratatouille! (We watched the movie yesterday so I was inspired, and I happened to have a recipe for it in my Williams Sonoma Vegetable Cookbook) Here it is, my own version because I didn't have everything it called for:

1 zucchini
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper
5 cloves garlic
1 can diced tomatoes (or 3/4 lb fresh + 2-3 tsp tomato paste)
1/8 t dried thyme
1/2 T dried parsley
4 fresh basil leaves, finely torn
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the zucchini into 1/4" slices. Lightly sprinkle with salt. Let sit for about 30 min, then wipe with paper towels to remove excess salt.

While those are sitting, heat 2 T of the EVOO over medium heat (assuming stainless steel). Thinly slice the onion, then saute until almost softened, about 5 min. Seed and dice the bell pepper, coarsely chop the garlic, add half the peppers and half the garlic to onions and cook over low heat until peppers are softened, about 7 min.

Return pan to medium heat and add 2 T EVOO. Add zucchini slices and saute until they are golden, about 4 min.

Add the remaining garlic, tomatoes (and paste if using), and herbs to the pan and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return pan to low heat and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 20 min.

Remove from heat and stir in the last T EVOO. Serve hot, at room temp or cold. Goes great with roasted chicken! Makes 4 servings, 65-70 min total prep/cook time.

And then today, I made Pearsnip Mini Spice Loaves! Yummy. We get organic produce through a local co-op and parsnips came in Saturday's delivery. I'd never eaten them before, and didn't really know what to do with them, so I treated them like their cousin, the carrot. Steamed and added cinnamon, turned out ok. Decided I wanted to do something a little different today. I'd heard of apples and carrots together making baked goods, so I thought parsnips and pears being similar, they'd be a winner too! I found a recipe online, changed it up a bit and here's mine:

3 parsnips, shredded
1 large pear, shredded
1 cup pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
2 large eggs
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in center of oven. Grease loaf pans.
Toast the pecans about 5 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant (while oven is preheating). Let cool and then chop coarsely.
Combine parsnips and pear in a large bowl and set aside. In a second large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir in pecans and raisins. Set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, oil, milk and vanilla extract. Fold egg mixture and parsnip mixture into flour mixture, stirring just until moistened and combined. Bake until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves comes out clean, about 35 min. Cool on a wire rack.

So there you go! What new dish have you discovered lately?