Reading week is almost over, and it’s making me sad. I wish we had a reading week every other week. God knows we all need one! This week has been semi productive. Went to the gym almost every day, and if not I went out walking either in the rain, or high winds, just to get a little fresh air.
I also did get the chance to try out 4 new recipes!!! Yes 4! So here they are!
First recipe is a Spaghetti Squash Casserole inspired by Taralynn McNitt’s blog, Underdressed Skeleton. She has a bunch of interesting recipes and I had a spaghetti squash lying around, so why not try it? Well, you won’t be disappointed!
You will need
- 1 spaghetti squash, cooked
- cherry tomatoes, sliced or diced (you can use salsa if you want)
- bell pepper, diced
- 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- any other vegetable or bean you want
- grated mozzarella or marbled cheddar
- cumin, salt, pepper, garlic powder
First, you need to cook your squash. So while it’s cooking you can prep your veggies and plop them in a mixing bowl and sprinkle your seasonings on them (no oil required).
Second, once the squash is cooked (if you scrape it with a fork, it will come apart looking like spaghetti strands), scrape the squash into your mixing bowl and toss everything together quickly. Place everything in a Pyrex baking dish and top with your cheese.
Third, place it back in the oven for 30 minutes. Once it’s done, you will
have a lovely Mexican inspired Spaghetti Squash casserole!
* I added some feta cheese to my veggies, so feel free to switch it up and make it unique. I didn’t have half the ingredients she calls for on her blog, so I just went with what I had in my fridge*
This technically serves 4 to 6 people, depending if its a main or side dish. But to be honest, I could have eaten the whole thing… It was truly amazing.
Next up, chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s Ratatouille (inspired by a friend of his). Mom treated me to my early Christmas gift when I went back home for Thanksgiving (the Plenty cookbook) and I’ve been flipping through the pages, trying to find something that I could make for myself, that was easy, yummy, but not too elaborate… I like making elaborate dishes, but only when I have people over… It’s kind of sad making a beautiful dish and not having anyone compliment you on it (yes my ego is that big).
Anyways! My friend’s mom makes an amazing ratatouille and I’ve always wanted her recipe, so I decided to try this one first then beg for her after. Turns out that this one is quite delicious! And it was my first time making it. Just a friendly tip, from Yotam and I, PREP YOUR VEGGIES FIRST. This step literally took me 45 minutes, but you will be thankful that you did it before hand.
You will need
- 7 tbsp. of sunflower oil (Canola is ok, you want to be using a mild flavoured oil)
- 2 small onions, cut into 1 /14 inch dice
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/2 fresh green chile, thinly sliced (I used Srirracha… They, oddly enough, didn’t have any jalapenos at the grocery store… just use a good squirt or two)
- 2 small red peppers, cut into 1 1/4 inch dice
- 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 1/4 inch dice
- 1 small parsnip, peeled and cut into 1 1/4 inch dice (again, no parsnip at the store, I used a sweet potato)
- 1 cup French beans, trimmed (Green beans for the non British folk)
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1 1/4 inch dice
- 1/2 a large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 1/4 inch dice
- 1 small potato, peeled and cut into 1 1/4 inch dice
- 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped *
- 1/2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- salt and black pepper
- 1 cup water
- fresh cilantro to garnish
* to peel a tomato, you need to blanch it in boiling water. I SKIPPED THIS. It might make a difference to the top chefs out there, but for you and I, its all the same*
You see, there are several different ways of making said Ratatouille. There is one method of putting everything in a pan and sautéing it. There’s Julia Child’s way of layering it, then there’s another way, where you simmer it in a big pot. This recipe uses Child’s and the third way, where you simmer everything in a large pot, but then transfer it into a baking dish and cook it in the oven as well.
As for the sizing of the vegetables, please don’t go overboard and measure out each and every piece… although there is a nifty cutting board out there just for you OCD chefs … I have seen different ways of presenting a Ratatouille, but this will look like a vegetable stew. It’s delicious on it’s own, and even better served with some quinoa, basmati rice, cooked chicken or lamb!
- put 2/3 of the oil in a large heavy casserole or pot and place on medium-high heat. Add onions and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next stir in the garlic, chile and red peppers and fry for another 5 minutes. Add squash and parsnip and continue frying for 5 minutes
- using a slotted spoon, lift the vegetables out of the pot and into a medium bowl, leaving as much of the oil in the pot as possible (IF USING SRIRRACHA, you will notice that there will be almost no oil because it will have turned into a sticky syrup… add a tiny bit more). Top this up with the remaining oil. Add the beans, zucchinis and eggplant to the hot oil and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Return the contents of the bowl back into the pot. Add the potato, tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste and salt and pepper. Stir well, the pour the water in, or just enough to half-cover the vegetables (DONT BE FOOLED, if you are using a pot, don’t add too much water.. that was my mistake). Cover with the lid and leave to simmer gently for 30 minutes.
- preheat oven at 400 degrees. Using a slotted spoon, transfer veggies from pot to Pyrex baking dish. Try not to pile the veggies on too high (1 1/4 inch thick). Pour the liquid over the veggies and cook for 30 minutes. Your veggies will be very soft and the liquid will be mostly all evaporated.
*** Timing is super important for this dish, as in, you want things to be mushy and cooked by the end, so make sure you take up ALL the time needed, don’t rush through it***
Garnish with cilantro and serve!
*I sadly don’t have a picture of the dish at the moment, but will post one soon!*
Third dish, Vegetable Jalfrezi… drumroll please… is by the one and only, JAMIE OLIVER <3<3<3
If you noticed from the ingredients of the last recipe, I had half a butternut squash and half of an eggplant left. What to do? Well, Jamie has an incredible chapter on curries in his Food Revolution cookbook, so I decided to go ahead and make it last night. What’s brilliant about his cookbook, is that he actually gives you 5 different curry paste recipes that you can make from scratch, instead of buying the jars of the premade stuff! Last night’s dinner was his Vegetable Jalfrezi with of course, homemade Jalfrezi paste
For the paste you will need
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- thumb-size piece of ginger, chopped
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 2 tbsp. peanut oil (You’re going to want to use a mild oil, so Canola or Sunflower will do)
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste (I kept what was left of my tiny can of tomato paste from my Ratatouille for this recipe)
- 1 fresh green chile (again, Srirracha)
- small handful of fresh cilantro
- 2 tsp. cumin seeds (if you cant find seeds, powdered stuff will do)
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds (brown or yellow)
- 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds (couldn’t find any, so I omitted this)
- 1 tsp. coiander seeds (couldn’t find any, so I used dried coriander flakes)
For the paste
- toast the seeds together for a few minutes until they brown a little and they start to smell
- put everything in a food processor (or Blender) and pulse until it makes a nice paste
For the main dish
- 1 medium onion, roughly diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
- thumb size piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- small bunch of coriander STALKS (pick the leaves off and keep them for garnishing), chopped finely
- 2 red bell peppers, roughly diced
- 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
- 3 ripe tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 of a large butternut squash (or one small one… I just used what I had left)
- Optional: other half of the left over eggplant
- 15 oz can of chickpeas (I have yet to see a 15 oz can of chickpeas, so a normal can will do)
- vegetable oil
- a quarter size piece of butter
- Jalfrezi paste
- 28oz. can of diced tomatoes
- 1/4 balsamic vinegar
- in a large pot or Wok, heat oil and butter
- add the onions, chile, ginger, garlic, coriander stalks and cook for 10 minutes
- add peppers, butternut squash, chickpeas, eggplant, and curry paste, stir to coat
- add cauliflower, fresh and canned tomatoes and vinegar
- fill HALF a can with water***
- bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes
- after 30 minutes, take lid off for the last 15 minutes
*** I made the mistake of forgetting that he uses 2 x 14oz. cans of diced tomatoes…. my can is 28 oz. … DONT USE A FULL CAN OF WATER… My dish was very watery , but it didn’t lose any of the taste… just made it soupy…***
Season carefully and serve with basmati rice, a side of yogurt to cut the spice and sprinkle of coriander leaves
This recipe made a TON of servings, so I let it cool down and froze portions of it for the next few weeks!
Same thing for the ratatouille… and my soup… this is my freezer at the moment
Next post, Pumpkin Chaï Muffins!