Tuesday, August 4, 2009
What does one do before one leaves on vacation? Survey the perishables, and figure out how best to use them up. I had in my refrigerator three zucchini, a container of baby bella mushrooms, half an onion, and a new bunch of celery to be used up. Plus a can of black olives that had been stepped on, a bell pepper, a fairly full jar of Newman's Own veg salsa medium and some Vodka spaghetti sauce. I was trying to figure out how to use up the zuch, 'shrooms and celery when it dawned on me. Ratatouille!
Now, as far as I can tell, what I came up with is still ratatouille. It is a cheap peasant dish, and I'm sure most peasant dishes arouse from trying to use up the perishables.
Since I do not have a large saute pan (none of my pans comfortably fit a tortilla) I cooked all the ingredients individually in my cast iron skillet. It took more time to cook everything separately, but I think I was better able to cook them and get the best flavour this way.
So, my recipe? I burnt (too high!) some pepper flakes, (turned down the heat) added some garlic then half an onion and sauted it for... awhile. I set my mushrooms in whole, but the onions were getting too hot so I scooped those out and set the rest of the mushrooms in - there was just enough room for all of them. After those were well browned on both sides I added those to my "cooked" bowl and added one loosely chopped red bell pepper which I cooked until it was a little black on one side and softened. Those came out and in went three celery stalks, some more crushed pepper, and dried oregano and basil.
Next the zuchini went in. After awhile got bored waiting for the zuchini to cook so I dumped everything back in with the addition of the remainder of the Vodka sauce and Newman's "Farmer's Garden" salsa. The lid hardly fit on so everything then went into my stock pot to simmer away.... With the addition of a bunch of collards that had to be used up! I used a pair of scissors (scissors are your best friend in the kitchen) to cut out the midrib and rough cut them into the pot. I brought it to a boil and let it simmer an hour or two more. I figured it was done when the collards were finally wilted.
Voila! I got two 2Cup and one 4 cup archer glass container full, plus one small cereal bowl out of that. Now bad huh? Flavourful (from my spices or the sauce?), healthy and vegetarian, what more could you want?