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Grilled Ratatouille Salad

ratatouille  salad

~ Grilled Ratatouille Salad with Couscous ~

It’s that time of year when the garden is lobbing bushels of vegetables at us faster than a tennis ball machine. And it means one thing: It’s time for ratatouille. Now, mind you, this is not your traditional ratatouille. Instead of simmering a stew of Provencal vegetables on the stovetop, I’ve thrown eggplant, squash, onions and peppers on the grill until lightly charred, then tossed them with olive oil and fresh herbs. It’s a lighter version that’s very versatile. I like to serve it over couscous, tossed with pasta or spooned on top of grilled garlic bread.

Grilled Ratatouille Salad

If you don’t have a grill, the veggies may be broiled in the oven. You may either roast the tomatoes with the vegetables or toss them in at the end. (If you grill them, thread on pre-soaked bamboo skewers to prevent them from falling through the grates). If desired, sprinkle with crumbled feta or goat cheese before serving.

Serves 4.

2 medium zucchini or yellow squash, cut in 1/2 inch slices
2 red or yellow bell peppers, quartered, stems and seeds removed
1 small eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/2-inch thick
1 large red onion, slice crosswise, 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup Italian parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded

Prepare a grill for direct cooking over medium heat. Spread the vegetables on a tray. Brush with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Grill until lightly charred and cooked to desired doneness, 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut in large chunks. Place in a bowl with tomatoes, garlic, parsley and basil. Gently toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more olive oil if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.  

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

vegetable lasagna tastefood~ Roasted Vegetable Lasagna ~

Eat your lasagna and have your vegetables too. Roasted strips of eggplant, zucchini and red peppers alternate with lasagna sheets in this veggie-enhanced family favorite. No worries, there’s plenty of gooey melted cheese and tomato sauce rippling through this version, the most adamant veggie haters (we won’t point fingers) will be hard pressed to complain.

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Serves  6

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large red bell peppers, halved, stemmed and seeded
2 medium eggplants, sliced lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick
3 medium zucchiini, sliced lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick
16 ounces whole milk ricotta
1 large egg
2 to 3 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, shredded
1 box lasagna sheets (you won’t use all of them)
Fresh basil leaves

Prepare sauce:
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan. Add onion; saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cloves garlic and red chili flakes; saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, oregano, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Roast vegetables:
Heat oven broiler. Place peppers, cut-side down, in a baking dish. Broil peppers until skin is blistered all over. Transfer to a bowl and cover. Let stand 10 minutes, then peel away skin. Slice peppers in 1/2-inch strips.
Generously oil a rimmed baking sheet. Lay eggplant slices in one layer on sheet, turning to coat with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Broil until golden and tender, turning once. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with zucchini slices.

Ricotta:
Whisk ricotta, egg, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 cup Pecorino, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl.

Assemble lasagna:
Heat oven to 350° F (180° C). Spoon a thin layer of sauce in bottom of 8 x 10-inch baking dish or gratin. Place a layer of lasagna sheets over the sauce, breaking them to fit to size as necessary. Smear ricotta over pasta. Arrange eggplant slices over the ricotta. Spoon a little sauce over the eggplant. Sprinkle with Pecorino and scatter some of the mozzarella over. Place another lasagna sheet over the eggplant. Repeat the layering process, substituting the zucchini for the eggplant. Repeat again with the red peppers. Top with the last layer of lasagna pasta. Smear with ricotta. Top with any remaining vegetables. Spoon sauce over and around the vegetables. Sprinkle with a final layer of Pecorino and mozzarella.
Bake in oven until thoroughly cooked through and cheese is bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes. Serve warm with basil sprinkled over.

Farmer’s Market Provençal Salmon Couscous

~ Salmon, Cherry Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peppers, Leek, Couscous ~

It’s Provençal vegetable season. Peppers, eggplants, squash and tomatoes are impossible to miss (and resist) at the farmer’s market. Tables stacked with teetering piles of gypsy, poblano, Hungarian and myriad chile peppers vie for attention, showing off their glorious colors and funky, gnarly shapes. I pass a table of eggplant where shiny black beauties, the sturdy workhorse of the eggplant family, sit proudly with their brethren: skinny, lilac Chinese no thicker than a fat finger, purple and white zebra-striped Sicilian, baby ball-shaped Thai.  It’s impossible not to pick up too many, simply because they look so pretty. At home, I fill my refrigerator with as much as I can fit and save the prettiest to display in baskets and bowls on our tables.  The challenge is to remember to eat them.

Provençal Salmon Couscous

Any vegetable that you like to roast will work with this recipe, but it’s especially delicious with late summer veggies. Feel free to mix and match to your taste. I roast the vegetables separately from the salmon (except the leek) so that they won’t absorb too much fish flavor while cooking.

Serves 4.

4 thin, small Chinese eggplant, sliced diagonally, 1/2-inch thick (or one medium dark beauty eggplant, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
1 poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded, halved, thinly sliced
1 sweet red bell pepper (or other peppers you might like), stemmed and seeded, halved, thinly sliced
1 cup small cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1 large leek, white and pale green parts sliced 1/2-inch thick
4 salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each
2 tablespoons, plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Sriracha

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 1/4 cups hot water
4 scallions, white parts removed (save for another use), green parts thinly sliced

Prepare:
Heat oven to 375 F (190 C). Toss eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and garlic in a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Transfer to a baking dish. Bake in oven until vegetables are tender and slightly colored, 45 minutes.

Place leeks in a rectangular baking dish. Nestle the salmon filets between the leeks. Whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, Sriracha, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over fish and leeks. Using your hands, gently turn the fish and leeks to coat. Place in same oven with the vegetables. Bake until salmon is just cooked through and beginning to color on top, about 30 minutes.

While the salmon is baking, prepare the couscous. Place couscous in a large bowl. Pour hot water over. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir once or twice. Cover and set aside until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff with fork. Stir in scallions.

To serve, spoon the couscous onto a large platter or individual serving plates. Sprinkle the roasted vegetables over the couscous. Place the salmon filets in the center and scatter the leeks around the salmon. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Ratatouille Gratin from TasteFood
Sambal Eggplant from Rasa Malaysia
Oven Roasted Fish with Provençal Vegetables and Basil from TasteFood
Eggplant and Red Pepper Terrine from Simply Recipes
Pasta Provençal with Basil, Tomatoes and Olives from TasteFood

Pizza with Roasted Cauliflower, Calabrian Chilies and Green Olive Tapenade

I’ll get right to the point. The star of this pizza is the tapenade – a smashing combination of briny green olives, toasted almonds, the rich oily heat of Calabrian chili and magical umami-rich anchovies. Sprinkled over roasted cauliflower, fresh peppers and creamy mozzarella, this is one fresh and feisty pizza. The only problem with the tapenade is that it’s so good, you might find yourself gobbling spoonfuls straight from the bowl, smearing it on a piece of bread, or swiping the prepped cauliflower through it before you have a chance to assemble the pizza, so I recommend that you make a double or triple batch. This way, you can have your nibbles and eat your pizza, too.  Continue reading Pizza with Roasted Cauliflower and Green Olive Tapenade

Red Quinoa and Kale Slaw

I served this Quinoa and Kale Slaw the other night as an accompaniment to grilled pork tenderloin. Quinoa is a hearty, gluten-free grain packed with nutrients. It’s tiny seeds are toothsome and nutty, yet, in my opinion, somewhat wanting for flavor and brightness when served alone. I prefer to tumble the little sprouted grains with a smattering of leaves, chopped vegetables and spices for a healthy and immensely satisfying side dish. This recipe pairs red quinoa with handfuls of chopped Tuscan kale. While it may sound like a lot of kale, the sturdy greens easily make themselves at home in the salad and provide a perfect foil to the quinoa seeds. The result is akin to a cole slaw, which, in this case, would be kale slaw.

Red Quinoa and Kale Slaw
Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 cups red quinoa
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced
1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Tabasco or hot sauce
1 bunch Tuscan (Lacinato) kale, tough ribs removed, chopped

Bring quinoa, stock and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cover and reduce to heat to low. Simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa grains sprout, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and olive oil and toss to coat. Cool slightly. Add remaining ingredients, except for the kale, and toss to combine. Stir in the kale. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets, Wheat Berries and Goat Cheese
Roasted Provençal Vegetable Salad
Fregola Sarda with Asparagus and Lemon

Chicken and Vegetable Curry

~ Chicken and Vegetable Curry ~

At last the rains have come. This means that much-needed snow is finally falling in the mountains, and it also means that it’s perfect weather at home for a stew. January invites slow-cooking and one-pot meals. After the fancy food and hoopla of the holidays, the first month of the new year begets hearty and comforting meals without pretension. This curry is a perfect example. Brimming with vegetables and perfumed with curry, this stew is healthy and light. Its brightness and heat will warm and feed a crowd, while jump-starting any dormant taste buds suffering the winter doldrums.

Chicken and Vegetable Curry

For a richer curry, substitute the chicken stock with 1 – 14 ounce can of coconut milk. Serves 4 – 6.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons grated ginger, with juices
1 heaping tablespoon curry powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1 large carrot, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut in 1/4 inch julienne
1 half head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 – 15 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juices
2 cups chicken stock, or more as necessary
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch pieces
Fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a deep skillet or pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the curry powder and salt; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the carrot, red pepper and cauliflower. Cook, stirring to coat the vegetables with the spices, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with juices and chicken stock. The vegetables should be just covered with liquid. If not, add a little more chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon. Stir in the chicken. Simmer, partially covered, until chicken is thoroughly cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning. If needed, add 1-2 teaspoons of brown sugar. Serve hot with basmati rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

 

Roasted Provençal Vegetable Salad

~ Roasted Provençal Vegetable Salad with Couscous ~

Consider this as a deconstructed ratatouille – which happens to be oven roasted. The same cast of characters applies, only the method differs. An end of summer symphony of squash, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes are tossed together with olive oil and roasted in the oven until softened and gently charred, instead of simmered and thickened in a pot. The traditional ratatouille stew morphs into a roasted vegetable salad, freshened with a shower of fresh herbs and served over a bed of couscous for a light and healthy meal.

Roasted Provencal Vegetables Salad with Couscous

You may either roast the tomatoes with the vegetables or toss them in at the end for extra freshness. The salad is delicious as is or served over couscous, pasta, or quinoa. Serves 4 -6.

1 medium eggplant, cut in 1/2 inch slices, each slice quartered
2 small zucchini, cut in 1/2 inch slices
2 small yellow squash, cut in 1/2 inch slices
1 large red onion, halved horizontally, each half cut lengthwise in 4 thick chunks
6 baby sweet peppers, stemmed, seeded halved
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup Italian parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
Optional: Crumbled goat or feta cheese as garnish

Heat oven to 375 F. (190 C.) Place all of the eggplant, zucchini, squash and onion in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat. Arrange on 2 rimmed baking sheets in one layer. Place in oven. Bake until vegetables are tender and turning golden brown, rotating baking pans, to ensure even roasting. Remove from oven and cool. Transfer vegetables to a large bowl. Add tomatoes, garlic and fresh herbs. Toss. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve over couscous. Sprinkle with crumbled cheese if using.

Grilled Ratatouille Salad

Ratatouille Salad

Grilled Salad?  You bet. This version of ratatouille is perfect in the summer when the season is lobbing a kaleidescope of Provençal vegetables our way. Instead of simmering eggplant, squash and peppers with tomatoes on the stove in the traditional Niçoise fashion, try grilling all of them on the barbecue.  Bright, colorful, and pleasantly charred, Grilled Ratatouille Salad is a healthy, summery side dish or salad.  Serve as an accompaniment to grilled meats and fish or as a smoky, crunchy stand-alone salad with crusty pain paysan. Alternatively, head further south in the Mediterranean for inspiration and add feta cheese and kalamata olives for a twist on Greek salad.

Grilled Ratatouille Salad
Serves 6 as a side dish

2-3 bamboo skewers
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 large, firm eggplant, cut horizontally in 1/2 inch thick slices
2 large red onions, cut horizontally in 1/2 inch thick slices
2 thin zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 thin yellow squash, halved lengthwise
2 red peppers, halved, seeded, stems removed
1 poblano pepper, halved, seeded, stem removed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves minced
1 small bunch Italian parsley leaves, stems removed, chopped
1 small bunch basil leaves, ripped in half

Soak skewers 30 minutes before grilling.  Prepare grill for a medium-heat. Thread tomatoes on skewers.  Arrange the vegetables and tomato skewers on a large baking sheet.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat thoroughly.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Transfer to grill (or broil in oven). Grill vegetables over medium direct heat, turning, until lightly charred and tender.  Transfer to platter; allow vegetables to cool slightly. Remove tomatoes from skewers and place in large bowl. Cut eggplant, onions, zucchini, squash and peppers in 1 inch pieces. Add to bowl with tomatoes.  Toss vegetables with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley, basil. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with extra parsley and basil leaves.

Black Bean, Corn and Red Pepper Salsa

Black Bean Salsa tf

Here is one easy way to jazz up your dinner plate. Black Bean, Corn and Red Pepper Salsa is spicy, bright and colorful. It’s delicious as an appetizer with tortilla chips, as a salad or an accompaniment to grilled fish, meat or chicken. Like any good salsa this one combines a variety of textures and tastes, balancing sweetness with spice and acidity. And, like all good salsas, there is no one way to make it. Take advantage of the vegetables and fruits you have on hand, selecting for a variety of colors and textures, and a balance of sweet and savory components.

Black Bean, Corn and Red Pepper Salsa

For the best texture, cut the ingredients in uniform pieces, as much as possible. Makes about 4 cups

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, or 1- 16 oz. can black beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn, thawed, or uncooked corn from the cob
1 small red pepper, stemmed, seeded, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, minced
4 green onions, trimmed, white and green parts finely sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro sprigs

Combine all the ingredients except the cilantro in a bowl. Toss to combine. Taste to adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate one hour or up to 4 hours. Before serving, add cilantro and toss to combine. Serve as a salad or accompaniment to grilled fish, chicken, meat.

Provençal Vegetable Tian with Goat Cheese and Basil Coulis

Summer Tian

Tiring of Ratatouille?  I am a big fan of the Provençal-inspired stew of summer vegetables, but by the end of August I find myself seeking cues for inspiration in a hungry quest for different ways to use the heaps of squash, zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes harvested from our summer gardens.  So, prompted by this month’s Grow Your Own event hosted by Andrea’s Recipes, armed with a shiny new lime-green enameled cast iron pan, and inspired by a scrumptious article on tians in my favorite French magazine, Côté Sud,  I decided to create a Provençal Vegetable Tian with homegrown heirloom tomatoes and basil.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Tian is the the French word for a casserole baked in an earthenware dish, layered with seasonal vegetables and cheese.  Originating in the south of France, and possibly influenced by the North African couscous pot, the ingredients are decoratively arranged and slow cooked for simple, rustic, flavorful results.  What better way to present a typically Provençal selection of vegetables than in a tian?  The sliced veggies are tossed in a coulis of puréed basil leaves, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil to give moisture and the unmistakable flavor of summer.  Crumbled soft goat cheese adds a creamy, tangy depth to this vegetarian dish.  Baked until the vegetables are tender but not too soft, this tian is delicious straight from the oven or even the next day.  Just like a good ratatouille – but different.

Provençal Vegetable Tian with Goat Cheese and Basil Coulis
Serves 4-6

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium, firm eggplant/aubergine, stemmed, quartered lengthwise, cut in 1/2″ thick slices

3 large ripe vine or heirloom tomatoes, cut in 1/2″ thick slices
2 small yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 red or orange sweet peppers, halved, seeded, cut in 2″ square pieces
1 medium zucchini, cut in 1/4″ thick slices
1 medium yellow squash or 2-3 large patty pan squash, cut in 1/4″ thick slices
6 oz. (180 grams) fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Prepare Basil Coulis:
Combine basil and garlic in bowl of food processor. While the machine is running, pour in 1/3 cup (80 ml.) oil in steady stream until consistency resembles a vinaigrette; add more oil if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Grill Eggplant:
Arrange eggplant slices in one layer on oven tray.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill in oven until eggplant turns golden brown and softens, about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven.

Assemble Tian:
Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.)
Lightly oil an earthenware baking/gratin dish.  In a large bowl, toss slices of grilled eggplant, tomatoes, onions, zucchini and yellow squash with 3/4 of the basil coulis.  Arrange slices overlapping on the diagonal in baking dish.  Crumble goat cheese over vegetables.  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake in oven 50 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool briefly.  Drizzle remaining basil coulis over tian.  Garnish with whole basil leaves.  Serve warm or at room temperature.