Category Archives: Entrees

Quinoa and Veggies Teriyaki – Instant Pot

At least once a day I comment how much I love my Instant Pot . . . every time I open it up to throw in some beautiful organic whole food items and anticipate something yummy in a few minutes. And it’s so easy to clean!

So I used this technique once when I had a bunch of summer squash and peppers I needed to use up. This time I just had peppers — the pretty little multi-colored mini-peppers. Since the dish was a hit at my house the first time, I decided to make it again with just peppers. And it was good again — but I don’t have exact measurements, just a picture.

Quinoa & Veggies Teriyaki – Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil, 2 TB
  • Garlic, 2 large cloves
  • Onion, one large
  • Mini-peppers, 1 lb. bag
  • Quinoa, one cup dried
  • Water, 2-1/2 cups
  • Salt, 2-3 tsp.
  • Teriyaki sauce, 1/4-1/2 cup

Instructions

  1. Prepare the veggies: mince the garlic, slice the onion into pie-shaped wedges and break apart or petite dice, remove stems from peppers and cut in half.
  2. Add the quinoa, 2 cups of water (the additional half cup or so is for making the sauce the veggies cook in) and 2 tsp. salt to the Instant Pot, set to Pressure, close the lid and vent, and Pressure for 15 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
  3. Spoon the quinoa into a serving bowl.
  4. Can Pressure. Set the IP on Saute for a few minutes. Add the olive oil to the pot along with the minced garlic and onion. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add the peppers and continue to saute for a minute or two  more.
  5. Add 1/2 cup water to the veggies in the IP with 1/4-1/2 cup teriyaki sauce. Put the lid on (I used a see-through IP lid for this part) and Steam for a couple of minutes until the veggies reach the degree of softness you prefer.
  6. Be sure the veggies are plenty saucy. If you need to, add more water and teriyaki sauce as they cook.
  7. When done, adjust the seasoning with a little more salt if needed.
  8. Spoon the veggies and sauce over the waiting quinoa.

Although we like the veggie and quinoa fresh out of the Instant Pot, this dish is fine cold as well.

Mushroom Wraps for Dinner from My Air Fryer

I got an Air Fryer for my birthday! It’s not quite as quick a study as the Instant Pot, but I do better with it once I put out of my head that things are going to taste exactly as though they were deep-fried. But it is a good kitchen tool, and I feel as though I’m just at the beginning of learning what I can do.

Pictured are some Mushroom Wraps I made for dinner last night (and am enjoying right now for lunch). I used a simple filling — very simple — my favorite for anything I stuff, cabbage, peppers, and now this:

Mushroom Filling

Ingredients 

  • Brown Basmati rice, 3 cups cooked
  • Mushrooms, sliced and pan roasted, 1 lb.
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp.
  • Za’atar, 1-1/2 tsp. (Za’atar is a Middle Eastern mix of herbs, available in bags at Butera, Garden Fresh and online – substitute with thyme and oregano to taste)
  • Olive oil, 1/4 cup
  • Tomato juice
  • Lemons, juice of 1-2

Directions

  1. Cook 1 cup of dried brown Basmati rice with a teaspoon of salt in the Instant Pot or with your usual method (which will make 3 cups cooked).
  2. Pan roast the sliced mushrooms until the liquid cooks off — or Saute in the Instant Pot.
  3. Cut up the mushrooms loosely and pulse two or three times in a food processor.
  4. Add the rice, 1⁄4 cup of olive oil, seasonings, lemon juice and a half teaspoon of salt to the processor, and pulse a
    few times. The mixture should be gravelly and cohesive. Do not over-process.

I used wonton wraps, wrapped up the mushroom filling in each one and brushed lightly with extra virgin olive oil. I set the air fryer at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Next time I’ll use something larger because it was a little tedious to wrap all of these, and I don’t have that much patience. They could have been a little more beautiful if someone with more patience had been doing it.

Another time I’ll also make a sauce. Maybe a mustard sauce would be nice. And I’ll reduce the air frying time. Ten minutes would probably have been enough.

But they’re still good! Now back to the Instant Pot for my evening meal with Manali’s Instant Pot Aloo Saag, which I love, love, love.

Another Instant Pot Recipe – Aloo Gobi

For those of you who are looking for recipe inspiration, I have a huge set of files on Pinterest that I used to use when I wanted to try something new in the Cafe and now use for ideas for the CSA or just to try at home. My user name is LeslieCooks. I haven’t filed many of my own things there — I post them all right here, through my blog and just haven’t taken time yet to post them in Pinterest. But you’ll find loads of vegetarian files, then files under vegan-this and vegan-that when I started experimenting with veganism. During the summer for the CSA, I started keeping files by veggie — cauliflower, eggplants, etc. Recently I started a file of Instant Pot recipes.

So after many years on Middle Eastern dishes, I’ve been pretty fixated on Indian food lately, and it really lends itself to the Instant Pot. I often find my recipes on Pinterest. A couple of weeks ago, I came across a page (through Pinterest), cookwithmanali.org. Her recipes are excellent — she has a Facebook page too, just for the Instant Pot.

This week, I tried a recipe from Vegan Richa with a few changes for the taste buds of my family. As much as I love spicy food, Andy is kind of heat sensitive, so I had to tone it substantially. I also reduced the salt a bit. The dish was delicious, and Andy even went back for seconds and thirds.

INSTANT  POT ALOO GOBI

Ingredients

  • Red onion, one half
  • Garlic, 5 cloves
  • Serrano pepper, one half
  • Ginger, one 1/4″piece, peeled
  • Tomatoes, 2-4 plum
  • Potatoes, 2 medium
  • Cauliflower, 1 small head
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 2-4 TB
  • Cumin, 1 tsp.
  • Turmeric, 1 tsp.
  • Paprika, 1 tsp.
  • Salt, 1 tsp.
  • Garam masala, 1 tsp.

Instructions

  1. Add the peeled garlic, peeled ginger, Serrano pepper, tomatoes cut in half, cumin, turmeric, paprika and salt to a blender or Vitamix and blend until smooth.
  2. Cut the potato into 1″ cubes (I never peel potatoes) and the cauliflower into florets. Remember, any parts of the cauliflower you don’t use you can throw into a bag for use with other washed veggie scraps in a soup broth you make in the Instant Pot when enough accumulate).
  3. Set the Instant Pot to saute, add the blended tomato and seasonings and stir.
  4. Add the potato cubes, continuing to stir for a few seconds, then close the lid (if you have a clear lid to watch what’s going on, that’s great — I haven’t gotten mine yet). Cook the potatoes for 2 or 3 minutes until they soften a little.
  5. Add the cauliflower florets and stir. I actually added just a little water at this point and stirred it into the tomato sauce thoroughly to make certain there was enough moisture for pressure cooking.
  6. Hit Cancel. Reset the IP for High Pressure, 2 minutes, and close the lid and vent.
  7. When the IP finishes, do an IPR (Instant Pressure Release). Add the garam masala, stir lightly, and serve with brown Basmati rice (by the way, I cook the rice before the Aloo Gobi – 1 cup rice, 2 cups water, 1/2 tsp. salt, High Pressure for 10 minutes, natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then…rice!)

Enjoy!!

I’m big on Dal Makhani lately. Just making another batch in my Instant Pot.

DAL MAKHANI

Ingredients
(Serves 3-4 unless you have a big appetite like I do!)

  • Urad dal (Whole black lentils), 1/2 cup
  • Dark red kidney beans, dry, 2 TB rounded
  • Spanish onion, 1 large, finely chopped
  • Ginger root, 1 TB, peeled and finely minced
  • Garlic, 1 clove, peeled and finely minced
  • Plum tomatoes, 3
  • Green chilies, 1-2 finely minced (Serrano is a good one) – I just used 1/2 of one chili
  • Turmeric, 1/4 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp.
  • Chili powder, 1 tsp.
  • Coriander, 2 tsp.
  • Garam masala, 1/2 tsp.
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1 – 2 TB
  • Cream (I used coconut milk for my vegan version), 1/2 cup
  • Salt, 3/4-1 tsp). (to taste)
  • Cilantro, a few leaves chopped for garnish

Directions

  1. Add the olive oil and cumin seeds to the Instant Pot and Saute until the seeds crackle. Cancel the IP while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  2. Mince the garlic, peeled ginger root and green chili (I just used about 1/2 of one chili. I have a lot of spice sensitive people in the house). Add to the IP.
  3. Finely chop the onion and add to the IP. Turn on Saute again, and cook until soft. Cancel the IP.
  4. Run the cut-up tomatoes through a Vitamix or blender.  Add water to 3 cups. Add to IP along with remaining seasonings except garam masala.
  5. Add the dried black lentils and dried kidney beans.
  6. Close the lid of the IP and close the vent. Turn the IP on at High Pressure for 40 minutes. If you like the black lentils (Urad Dal) to retain their shape better, just add the kidney beans, set the pressure at 20 minutes, do a quick release, add the black lentils, stir, close lid and vent and cook at high pressure for the remaining 20 minutes.
  7. When done, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10-15 minutes. If the pressure isn’t yet fully released, do a quick release and remove the lid.
  8. Add the garam masala and let it blend for a few moments.
  9. Add a vegan milk. I used coconut milk. Pea protein milk would also work.
  10. Remove from the IP, and garnish with cilantro.

I enjoy the Dal these days with a medley of Rice and Ancient Grains from Food with Purpose that I get at Costco. It has a great texture and nice, nutty flavor and takes about 10 minutes to cook in the IP.

Kidney Bean Jambalaya

I used to make this recipe in the Cafe, but it has been a while since I last pulled it out. My associate, Jame, created it for a group I was leading on healthy eating. I asked him to use kidney beans and brown Basmati rice in six different dishes so busy people could make all the rice and beans on the weekend and make up a quick dish with them each night of the week. His creations were fantastic!

This is a delicious vegan Jambalaya, and I decided to resurrect it. Unfortunately when I went hunting for a picture, what I had wasn’t the best resolution — and I wasn’t 100% sure what stage the recipe was when I recorded it in my files.  I mean, the ingredients and seasonings are all the correct ones, but I remember bumping up some of the seasonings and am not sure if that made it into the record.

Anyway, here it is for now, and one day soon I’ll make it in a reduced size — and check the seasonings. In fact, now that I have an Instant Pot, I might just make it very soon and work out the times for that. If you try it before I do, let me know how it is and if you needed to make any changes.

KIDNEY BEAN JAMBALAYA

Ingredients

  • Kidney beans, 6 cups cooked
  • Brown Basmati rice, 6 cups cooked (2 c. dry with 1 tsp. salt, 2 TB extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Green bell peppers, 2 cut in one in. chunks
  • Red bell peppers, 2 cut in one in. chunks
  • 2 onions cut in one in. chunks
  • Garlic, 1 TB
  • Smoked paprika, 1 tsp.
  • Basil, crushed, 1/2 tsp.
  • Rosemary, crushed, 1/2 tsp.
  • Thyme, crushed or ground, 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt, 2 tsp.
  • Hot paprika, 1/4 – 1 tsp. depending on your taste for heat

Instructions

Saute the peppers and onion with the garlic in the extra virgin olive oil until slightly softened. Add the remaining seasonings and sauté for a moment longer. Remove from heat. When the rice and kidney beans are ready, gently fold the beans and rice together with the peppers and onion. Serve and enjoy.

Peter, Peter, stuffed pumpkin eater

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA Newsletter 10/10/2017.

Farmer Bob’s pumpkins and winter squashes are beautiful this year, and they deserve to be the centerpiece of a meal, maybe even Thanksgiving dinner. This pumpkin feast is something you can feel proud to serve as your main dish for a vegan Thanksgiving — or right along with your turkey to satisfy vegetarian and vegan guests or as a festively colorful side dish. Even Peter will eat it and thank you, and he knows pumpkins!

This dish has three parts: the pumpkin, the pumpkin filling and the apples with their beautiful cranberry sauce topping.  You’ll have more filling than you need for the pumpkin, so you can just spread the extra around the pumpkin on the platter and put the apples on top of it. As you can see, the colors are amazing and will make any meal a special meal.

 

STUFFED PUMPKIN
Pumpkin and Stuffing (serves 4+ as a meal, many more as a side)

  • 1 Sugar or Pie Pumpkin
  • 2 Cups (Pre-cooked) Brown Basmati Rice
  • 2 Cups (Cooked) Chickpeas
  • 4 Cups Almonds/Raisins/Craisins/Apples
  • 4 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 TB + 2 tsp. Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • Pinch Hot Paprika

Cut off top of pumpkin. Cut stem to 2 inches. Scrape out seeds. Season inside of pumpkin with olive oil and honey (or unfiltered sugar). Rub outside of pumpkin with olive oil. Roast one hour at 350 degrees.

Cook two cups brown rice. Set aside. Sauté almonds, raisins, craisins and apple slices with olive oil, sugar, cinnamon and a pinch hot paprika. Add to rice with chickpeas. Stir together and re-season. Set aside.

Apples and Cranberries

  • 3 Baking Apples
  • 6 Cloves
  • 1 LB Bag Cranberries
  • Pinch Cinnamon
  • Juice of 1 Oranges
  • 2 TB Honey (Unfiltered Sugar for Vegans)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup White Sesame, Toasted

Halve and oil the apples. Bake with cinnamon and cloves.

For sauce, juice orange and add 2+ TB honey (or sugar). Reduce sauce. Add cranberries and cook very briefly. Remove cranberries. Reduce sauce further. Recombine sauce and berries.

Assembling Pumpkin Meal
If you make everything ahead, warm each part separately. When ready to serve, fill the pumpkin loosely, replace pumpkin lid, and plate the pumpkin. Surround the pumpkin with the remaining filling, and place the apples on top of it around the pumpkin. Top the apples with cranberry sauce, and garnish with white sesame.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Nothing against my favorite, pumpkin pie…but there’s so much more!

Published 10/3/2017 in Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA Newsletter

I always make pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, and I like to make them “from scratch,” with real pumpkin, not canned. It’s so easy — why not? All it requires is to slice the pumpkin in two, scoop and scrape out seeds and pulp (and set aside for roasted pumpkin seeds), oil, and place face side down on a roasting pan in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. At the end of the cooking time, remove from the oven, cool, and easily scoop out the pumpkin flesh.

And of course there are the seeds, which I’m munching as I write. You don’t get those with canned pumpkin! I put them in a colander with the pulp, run cold water over them, rubbing the seeds and pulp together. The seeds easily pull away, and I discard the pulp. Usually I dry the seeds briefly, then oil and salt them and oven roast in a shallow pan. This time, for some reason, I decided to pan roast them in a cast iron pan. I had just made some sweet pita in that pan using maple syrup, and I was too lazy to wash the pan, so I just threw in the seeds over the bits of darkened maple syrup and stirred constantly until they browned slightly and voila! Done. Delicious.

There are so many ways to use pumpkin that I can’t even count them. I get my inspiration from Morocco most of the time. Those folks love pumpkin and are so creative with it! Pumpkin soups, kibbee, stews, stuffed.

This week I’m going to share two pumpkin hummus recipes, the first with a slightly sweet profile, the second a savory Lebanese version. The Lebanese version didn’t have chickpeas in it, and it was lovely, but I confess to having an aversion to calling things hummus that don’t have chickpeas since in both Hebrew and Arabic, “hummus” means chickpeas as well as the “dip” in which they are used. When I finished the slightly sweet hummus, I had a few extra chickpeas, so I threw them into the Lebanese hummus mix, and it was delicious. I could have used more and will next time.

PUMPKIN HUMMUS

Blend the following until as smooth as you like it:

  • Chickpeas, 2 cups cooked (I always make my own from dried beans, but if you used canned, rinse and drain)
  • Pumpkin, 2 cups prepared as above
  • Cinnamon, 2 tsp.
  • Ginger root, peeled and minced, 2 tsp.
  • Salt, 1/8-1/4 tsp.
  • Nutmeg, 1/8-1/4 tsp.
  • Cloves, 2-4
  • Hot paprika, 1/8-1/4 tsp.
  • Sugar, 1 TB slightly rounded

For the “chips” on this one, I use whole wheat Lebanese pita, available in the Middle Eastern section of many stores. Cut it into chips and oven-crisp at 200 degrees until lightly toasted. Remove, cool and bag up for use later.

For this slightly sweet hummus, I stirred the chips in a hot pan for a few minutes with a bit of olive oil, maple syrup and cinnamon. Yum.

LEBANESE PUMPKIN HUMMUS

Blend the following until as smooth as you like it:

  • Pumpkin, prepared as above, 600-700 grams
  • Chickpeas, 1/2 cup
  • Lemon juice, freshly squeezed, 2 TB
  • Garlic, 1 clove, minced
  • Tahini, 5 TB
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp.
  • Hot paprika, 1/4 tsp.
  • Extra virgin olive oil for garnish
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

Serve this one with the regular pita chips from the Lebanese pita, not sweetened. Enjoy these delicious variations on a classic Middle Eastern favorite.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Tradition…tradition! Old traditions with fresh CSA veggies

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA newsletter, 9/27/2017

When I got cold, working in a food trailer during the winters, I decided to move inside to work. For a while, before I opened my Woodstock cafe, I had a little concession in Caputo’s Fruit and Vegetable Market in Algonquin. Many of the staff used to come over to the counter and ask me to make up special items for their lunches.

During Lent, a frequent request from my Catholic friends was for egg and peppers sandwiches, something that was new to me. I asked how they did it, and everyone had a different style and approach. This is what I came up with:

I use Italian rolls, whole wheat if I can find good ones, slice and toast them and set them aside. I cut up the peppers in 1-2″ pieces and toss them into a cast iron saute pan with some extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic, a little salt and some crushed oregano. I let them cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, then add a little bit of white Balsamic vinegar and put a lid on the pan to let the peppers simmer until softened.

While the peppers are cooking, I scramble some eggs gently in another cast iron pan and when barely cooked through, I remove the pan from the heat and push the eggs to its edge. (For a vegan alternative, scramble some tofu with salt and turmeric). When the peppers are finished, I arrange the eggs on top of one half of the bun, spoon the peppers over and voila! Egg and peppers sandwiches.

I missed Lent this year, but when we started getting our peppers from Farmer Bob last week…and more coming this week…I thought longingly of those sandwiches and made some up last night for my family. They definitely got the all-out seal of approval, so I think I’ll make them again this coming week.

I also enjoyed this Asian greens, radish and red onion salad during the past week and I expect will enjoy something similar in the coming week with the lettuce we’ll get. I used a simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil, white Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. That white Balsamic vinegar is a new favorite of mine. I’ve always used olive oil and lemon for my salads, but the vinegar is a nice alternative.

Finally, I’m gearing up for pickles. Farmer Bob is sending us all the basic ingredients for dills: pickles, garlic and dill. I only make refrigerator pickles, and they keep for months — deliciously. Wash the pickles and layer them with lots of cut garlic and dill into a glass or earthenware jar with a lid. Pour a cold broth over them made of 4 cups of water, 1 cup of distilled vinegar and 3 TB kosher salt. Refrigerate, and let them pickle for 2-3 weeks. If you like them spicy, add a cut habanero to the broth. Yum, can’t wait ’til mine are finished!

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Summer days…driftin’ away

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local Newsletter, 9/13/2017

I felt the first chill in the air while I was camping in Door County last week, and I thought with dismay that we’re closer to the end of summer than the beginning. Speaking of Door County, although I love outdoor cooking and would have loved to make some things with Bob’s beautiful veggies and get a few photos, it rained the entire time we were there. We managed a few hikes between the raindrops but no food photos. That means this first recipe comes to you without a photo.

MOROCCAN EGGPLANT PARMESAN

Slice eggplant into 1/8-1/4″ slices, salt and leave covered overnight in the refrigerator in a colander over a bowl to catch moisture. When you’re ready to make the dish, drain and pat the eggplant dry, then deep fry until golden brown and set aside. In a baking pan, layer the following in this order, at least two rounds:

  • Chickpeas
  • Fried eggplant
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Onions, sliced
  • Slivered spinach
  • Sliced green olives
  • Capers
  • Feta cheese (just with first set of layers)
  • Mozzarella (to top off after second set of layers)
  • Grated Parmesan

Bake the dish for 40 minutes in a conventional oven or until the mozzarella is bubbly and has brown spots. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Variations: You can spread whole sliced pita across the bottom of the pan before beginning the layers to absorb the juices if you wish, serving the pita along with the “slices” of Moroccan Eggplant Parmesan — or serve with garlic bread to soak up the juices. You can also leave off the cheese for a vegan version. The fried mozzarella makes the dish plenty “rich.”

ROASTED RADISHES

There are so many things to do with the humble radish, from vegetable art to pickles to salads to colorful salads of all kinds to creamy pink soups. One of the simplest things you can do is roast them for a colorful side dish or garnish to bring a platter of veggies to life.

STUFFED BELL PEPPER

I make stuffed peppers two ways: with the mushroom and rice filling I shared with you a few weeks back for cabbage rolls, my go-to stuffed veggie filling, or with Israeli couscous (pre-cooked) mixed with loads of (vegan) pesto. For the mushroom and rice filling (red and green bell peppers), I made a sauce with leftover tomato soup (pureed tomato, onion, a bit of fresh, peeled ginger, salt and hot paprika to taste). I pureed into the soup some cooked red bell pepper to brighten the color and create a more complex flavor. I made a straight tomato sauce for the couscous and pesto filled peppers (yellow). I always oil and roast the veggie I’m stuffing first until it’s almost as tender as I’d like it and perhaps just a bit browned. Then I add the filling to it — and set it on a bed of the sauce. Don’t those look pretty?

Here’s a hint: I’m not sure what color peppers we’ll get this week, but choose veggies for your soup/sauce that will compliment the color of the pepper.

So coming this week in addition to the eggplant, radishes and peppers, I hear we have sweet corn (can’t get enough of it at my house), Swiss chard, Mizuna, onions, tomatoes and maybe a little lettuce. Remember, any radishes you have left – or onions or greens make a great stir fry! Happy eating in these late summer days.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

CSA summer veggies…kinda like in the movies

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local Farm Newsletter 9/6/2017.

Remember the Pixar movie, Ratatouille? My grandson showed it to me a couple of years ago as part of his educate grandma project. I loved it! This week I thought it might be fun to try out their special version of ratatouille, called “Confit Bayildi,” created by Chef Thomas Keller.

Confit Bayildi after cooking with extra sauce drizzled on top. Best to use a cast iron pan with vented lid. I was preparing three smaller portions so had to improvise.

The difference between Chef Keller’s recipe and the ratatouille I usually make is mostly about technique and presentation. Ratatouille is a savory veggie stew, and it’s a must at the peak of the growing season since it uses everything: tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, garlic, summer squash, zucchini, eggplant, basil and/or rosemary. This special version, though, includes arranging the veggies for cooking and serving in concentric circles on top of a rich sauce, making a beautiful, colorful dish.

ChefSteps has a Youtube video (https://youtu.be/iCMGPRiDXQg) that demonstrates the technique, which is great to know not just for Confit Bayildi but for other wonderful dishes like a crustless creamy apple tart. First select, wash and cut up your veggies, trying to choose veggies approximately the same circumference: zucchini, summer squash, plum or smallish tomatoes, eggplant. In the video, the chef peeled and cut the tomatoes by hand into thin, round slices, then used a mandolin for the rest. I cut them all by hand and didn’t peel the tomatoes since I know ours are organic, and I like eating the peel. Any parts of these veggies you don’t use should go into your blender along with lots of garlic, a cut up onion or two and a cut up red bell pepper or two.  Add some extra virgin olive oil, salt and rosemary or basil, and blend until you have a smooth, thick sauce. Check the seasoning, making certain it is strong enough to carry the veggies. I like adding a little crushed red pepper as well.

Spread the sauce at the bottom of a cast iron pan or other heavy dish, and arrange the cut up veggies rhythmically in concentric circles on top of the sauce: zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, tomato, then repeat. When the dish is filled, drizzle additional olive oil over the top, and sprinkle with salt. Cover with parchment with a steam hole so the veggies don’t stew, and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. When finished, drizzle a little more extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs — and I squeezed a few drops of lemon juice over the top as well, which always seems to me to brighten the flavor. Finally, I drizzled remaining sauce over the top.

Ratatouille soup…mmm mmm good.

I had some extra cut up veggies after I made this, so I made ratatouille soup, easy peasy. Just put lots of garlic and minced onion into a soup pot with extra virgin olive oil, and saute briefly. Add tomatoes and a little water, and simmer for a few moments. Add all the other cut up veggies and water to barely cover. I usually start with about 1 TB of salt to a gallon of soup and 1/2 tsp. hot paprika. I add chopped fresh herbs like parsley, basil or rosemary after the soup finishes cooking and I turn off the heat. Taste and reseason to your taste. Less or no water would, of course, give you the traditional ratatouille. Enjoy!

And a few memories of this week on the farm:

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.