Harvest Ratatouille with Bacon

Nothing says Mediterranean more than the classic ratatouille. This spin on an old favorite, amped up with chunks of crispy thick bacon, make it a robust meal.

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1 medium-sized eggplant (about 1½ lbs)

2 T olive oil

3-4 medium zucchini (or yellow squash or both, about 1½lbs), thickly sliced

1½ lbs. tomatoes, skin removed and roughly chopped

1 medium sweet bell pepper, largely diced

1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, chopped

12oz. thick cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T Herbs de Provence

Sea salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel strips of the eggplant skin from top to bottom, leaving about an inch between each peel. Cut eggplant into large chunks . (If you prefer to leave the peel on, that’s fine, and likewise, removing it entirely is fine). Transfer the eggplant on to a cookie sheet, salt lightly and drizzle with olive oil. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.

 

While the eggplant is cooking, heat a Dutch oven (or a large deep skillet) and sauté the bacon until fairly crisp. Transfer pieces to a bowl. If there is more than 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings left in the pan, pour off the excess. Add the onion, garlic and peppers into the Dutch oven. Cook until lightly softened, add the zucchini and Herbs de Provence. Cook the zucchini until it begins to soften, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in the tomatoes to release the skin. Rinse immediately in cold water and peel the skin from the tomatoes. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, transfer them to the Dutch oven and cook for about 5 minutes.

 

Remove the eggplant from the oven, add it to the Dutch oven; add the bacon pieces. Let the ratatouille cook together another 20 minutes; adjust the seasoning for salt and pepper. At this point the ratatouille can sit in the Dutch oven off the heat for several hours, allowing the flavors to meld. Serves 6-8.

 

 


Caramelized Onion Tart “Tatin”

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For best results, bake this in a well-seasoned cast-iron pan. Let it cool slightly before flipping the pan over and easing out the tatin. Serve as a first course or as a main course with salad and cheese for a vegetarian meal. Adrienne made this in a class at Brookside Gardens in May 2016.

2 T butter
1 T olive oil
1.5# boiler onions, peeled and slice in half around the middle
2 T brown sugar
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 C crumbled goat cheese
1 (8 oz.) sheet puff pastry

Preheat oven to 400°. In a 10-inch cast-iron or other oven-proof pan, melt butter with olive oil. Place onion cut-side down in hot fat and cook until onions are soft and turning brown, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine sugar and balsamic, stir to incorporate. Add to onions and let sizzle until they caramelize, about one to two minutes. Remove from heat and let the pan and onions cool about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle 3/4 of the cheese over the onions. Roll out the pastry dough gently and press over the cheese. Prick lightly with a fork. Bake 25 minutes, or until pastry is golden and filling bubbles up around the edge. Set aside for a few minutes, then invert on a plate and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Serve warm or at room temperature.


Black Bean Chili with Citrus

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A lot of chili recipes tend toward darker flavor enhancers — expresso coffee or chocolate, or both, for a mole twist. This one takes a different approach with the addition of orange juice and it makes for a lighter, brighter chili — great as a summer chili, but also a delicious at this time of the year when citrus is abundant. This is vegetarian, but shredded chicken would certainly work well in it if you’re looking for a bit more protein. Have fun with this recipe — add sweet potatoes in the winter, and in the summer, liven it up with fresh chopped tomatoes, corn and crisp zucchini.

4 C dried black beans
2½ quarts (10 cups) water
2-3 fresh sprigs oregano, or 1 T dried
3 bay leaves
6 small or 3 large sage leaves
1 t salt
4 T olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 chopped peppers – bell pepper, Anaheim, or jalapeño (your choice, depending on taste for heat), seeds, stems and ribs discarded
6 cloves crushed garlic
2 T chili powder
1-2 t puréed chipotle in adobo, chipotle Tabasco, or chipotle powder (to taste)
1 T cumin, (crushed whole toasted cumin seed is best, if possible)
1 C orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
2 T rice wine vinegar
salt to taste

Garnish:

Sour cream
Chopped cilantro
Lime wedges
Avocado wedges

Rinse and sort the beans, discarding any stones or shriveled beans. You can soak the beans overnight in cold water (cover with several inches of water) OR pour enough boiling water over them to cover by a few inches and soak them for an hour OR skip the pre-soaking step. Soaking will speed up the cooking process. Add beans to a large pot with water. Add oregano, bay leaves, sage and salt. Bring the beans to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are soft, but not quite done. The time will vary depending on how large, dry, or old your beans are, and if you have pre-soaked them, from anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half.

While the beans are cooking, sauté onions and peppers in olive oil until soft. Add chili powder, chili purée, cumin, and garlic. Sauté until spices are fragrant. Remove from heat. When the beans are cooked, fish out and discard the bay leaves, stems of oregano, and sage leaves from the pot. Remove, but reserve, extra cooking liquid until there is about ½ inch of liquid above beans. Add the onion mixture and salt to the pot of beans. Cook another hour or so until thickened. Add reserved liquid if needed. Add half of the orange juice, and simmer. Adjust chili heat at this point – you may or may not want to add more of your chili paste. Just before serving, add remaining orange juice, lime juice, and vinegar. Salt to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro. Serve with corn tortillas, and/or rice, and garnishes.

 


Gratin of White Bean, Zucchini, Tomato

white bean gratin

We first posted this recipe three years ago, after it had become a perennial favorite in our households. A go-to for using up summer zucchini, this gratin is hearty enough to satisfy winter appetites. The zucchini can be replaced with delicata or butternut, but you’ll have to increase the cooking time. The gratin also could be assembled and baked in the oven for about 30 minutes before being broiled.  We demoed this for USBG as part of our January heirloom bean theme; we used fresh dried beans rather than canned ones. The original recipe came from The Washington Post so many years ago they don’t have it in their archives any more!

3 T olive oil
3 zucchini, cut into chunks
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 ½ C canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
2 T fresh thyme
4 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1 15-oz can white beans – cannellini, navy or great northern, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat a skillet and add olive oil; when oil is hot, add zucchini and saute over medium-high heat until lightly browned; remove with slotted spoon and reserve.  Add onion and garlic, turn heat down, cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, five minutes, until onion is soft and translucent.  Add tomatoes, bring to a simmer, cook another five minutes.  Add thyme, basil, beans and zucchini.  Simmer five minutes, taste for seasoning.  Pour mixture into a gratin dish and top with shredded cheese. Place gratin under pre-heated broiler five minutes or until cheese is lightly brown and melted.  Serve immediately.


Chickpea Turmeric Stew with Coconut Bacon

chickpea_turmeric_stew_sweet_potato_thai_red_curry_coconut_bacon_vegan_4Imagine a vegan meal of great, chunky protein (the chickpeas or garbanzo beans), soft, creamy sweet potato distilled in a coconut broth flavored with fresh turmeric and ginger root, floury Yukons to absorb those great juices, topped with crunchy flakes of something smokey, meaty-tasting and incredibly satisfying. “Coconut bacon?” you’re wondering. Make that part ahead of time (the whole thing can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator a couple days – reheat gently on top of the stove.) But do extra of the “bacon,” as you’ll find all sorts of use for it, from spinach salads to sprinkling on baked potatoes to serving with eggs and hash browns for breakfast.  Adapted from the food blog yupitsvegan.com and demoed by Adrienne at Brookside in January 2016.

For coconut bacon:
1½ C unsweetened coconut flakes
1 T soy sauce (or tamari or liquid aminos)
2 t prepared Thai red curry paste (Thai Kitchen brand is vegan)
½ T pineapple juice
½ T maple syrup
scant 1/4 t liquid smoke

For the chickpea turmeric stew:
3 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 to 2 serrano peppers, finely chopped (depending on your tolerance)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T minced fresh ginger
2 T minced fresh turmeric root (about 3 inches) (or use 1½ t dried turmeric, added along with the curry powder)
½ T mild curry powder
1 ~14 oz. can coconut milk (1½ C)
½ C pineapple juice
2 t soy sauce (or tamari or liquid aminos)
1 medium to small potato, cubed
1 medium to small sweet potato, cubed
1½ C chickpeas (one can)
2 T lime juice
salt, to taste
chopped cilantro or green onion, for serving
(optional) rice, for serving

For the coconut bacon:
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick aluminum. Dump the flaked coconut onto the baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients, making sure to evenly incorporate the curry paste. Drizzle the mixture over the coconut, and use your hands to toss it to coat. Spread it out in an even layer and place in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed/cooked off and the coconut is evenly browned. Let cool before using. The coconut bacon will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.
For the chickpea turmeric stew:
In a saucepan, heat a small drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the shallot with a sprinkle of salt; cook until starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the pepper, garlic, turmeric, and ginger with another sprinkle of salt, and stir. Cook 3 minutes until the shallot is soft. Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in the coconut milk, pineapple juice, soy sauce, and cubed potatoes and sweet potatoes, along with another fat pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. If desired, use the back of your spoon to mash up some of the potatoes to thicken the stew slightly. Stir in the cooked chickpeas and lime juice and let simmer partially covered for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with cilantro and coconut bacon.

 


Coconut Quinoa Bowl

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This recipe is a great way to use leftover cooked quinoa, but it is so delicious, you’ll be cooking up extra quinoa just so you can make this. While the nutty flavor of the quinoa is particularly nice in this combo, rice, bulgur or couscous would make good substitutes. For a gluten- (and carb-) free alternative, you could make cauliflower rice by grating it and steaming or sauteing it just enough to get rid of the raw flavor. Leftovers? Just slice up a fresh avocado and add some yogurt. This was such a hit at Brookside Gardens last fall, we thought we’d roll it out again for US Botanic Garden this month. This recipe was adapted from 101 Cookbooks.

2 C cooked quinoa
1 lemon
1 C yogurtkale
¼ t salt
2 t olive oil
½ C sliced or slivered almonds
½ C unsweetened shredded coconut
2 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed into a paste with ¼ t sea salt
4 C stemmed & shredded kale, from about 10 large leaves
1 avocado, pitted and sliced

Warm the quinoa. Grate the peel of the lemon and squeeze out the juice; reserve each separately. Stir salt into yogurt, drizzle with olive oil. Set aside. In a skillet over medium heat gently toast almonds; add coconut flakes and mashed garlic to the skillet. Remove skillet from heat and continue stirring until coconut is toasted and garlic is fully incorporated into nut mixture. Transfer skillet contents to a small bowl and reserve. Return skillet to heat; add a splash of olive oil, stir in the kale with a pinch of salt, and cook for just a minute, until the kale collapses a bit, and brightens. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over it, and transfer out of the pan immediately.

To serve, combine half of the almond coconut mixture with the quinoa in a large bowl. You can serve this individually, or family-style. Top the quinoa with the kale, plenty of the salted yogurt, and top with the remaining almond mixture, avocado, and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Garnish with grated lemon.

Serves 4.


Tahini Sauce with Nut Pesto and Pomegranate Seeds

 

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This combination has it all – tart lemon, crunchy nuts, sweet pomegranate seeds. It’s also chock full of nutrition and it’s versatile. Great over grilled or sauteed fish, grilled chicken or roasted or grilled lamb and even vegetables.  You could serve it as a dip or toss a salad with it.  Pomegranate molasses is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and can be found in specialty food stores or on line.  There’s nothing quite like it, but you can substitute balsamic syrup, made by boiling down balsamic vinegar until it becomes slightly syrupy.  We adapted this from Fine Cooking and demoed it last January. We’re rolling it out again for our September 2015 Mediterranean demos at the US Botanic Garden in honor of its new exhibit from the region. This time, Danielle had the pleasure of making this dish, served on pita bread.

Tahini sauce

6 T tahini (sesame seed paste, available in supermarket health food section)
4 t fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
½ t ground cumin
Kosher salt

For the nut-herb topping

¼ C toasted, finely chopped almonds
¼ C toasted, finely chopped walnuts
¼ C finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 T. finely chopped red onion
2½  T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T finely chopped fresh mint
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnish

¼ C pomegranate arils (see note, above)
2 t pomegranate molasses

Make the tahini sauce

Process the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, ¼ t salt, and 5 T water in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute.

Make the nut-herb topping

In a medium bowl, gently toss the almonds, walnuts, cilantro, onion, olive oil, parsley, mint, and pepper flakes with ¼t salt and 1/8 t pepper until well combined. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve the tahini sauce sprinkled with the nut-herb mixture and topped with pomegranate seeds. Drizzle pomegranate molasses.