High Summer Roasted Ratatouille

When I visited the farmer’s market a couple weekends ago, I was surprised to find eggplants. Usually they are only spotted in late August. At the same stand were tomatoes, zucchini, and onion, so my mind immediately dreamt of roasted ratatouille. It is one of my favorite meals, and I thought I could only enjoy it in late summer. Until now, that is.

The concept is very simple, and the result is way better than you could expect. I think you’d have to like eggplant though. Some people don’t, I understand, but I love it roasted. That’s my go-to plan for every vegetable I’m not sure what to do with: roast it!

Heat oven to 400°F.

To a large bowl add a tablespoon of minced onion, a tablespoon of tomato paste, 1/4 cup oil of choice, 5 minced garlic cloves, a heaping teaspoon of salt, pepper to taste, and some fresh or dried thyme.

Then add to the bowl 2 cups of sliced eggplant. Mine were the thin, long kind so they did not need to be diced at all. Also add 2 cups sliced zucchini, 1 large diced onion, and 1 cup of chopped tomatoes. You might be able to tell I added a few chili peppers into the mix to make it more spicy, but that’s totally optional.

Mix everything in the bowl to ensure all vegetables are coated.

Place onto a baking tray into a single layer and bake for 45 – 55 minutes, stirring occasionally. I like to use a silicone mat for roasting. I have this one,  that’s really for pie, and just fold it in half for the large baking tray.

Near the end of the bake time boil water for pasta. I chose spaghetti, but it wasn’t really a choice as that’s the only pasta I had on hand. I get it at WinCo in the bulk section in my own bag. 🙂

Top the spaghetti with the roasted ratatouille and garnish with fresh basil and parsley. Optional to sprinkle with parmesan and / or pine nuts depending on how you’re feeling that day. I apparently didn’t want either of those this time.

The fresh herbs were from my garden, which made this meal mostly local! Food from Idaho is decidedly not boring. Oh, and I made that bowl with my own hands. 🙂

Please let me know if you make this meal and if you become as obsessed with it as I am!

Peace and love,

Kristan

Roasted Apricot Ice Cream

There was an abundance of apricots.

Sweet, sensuous, apricots.

It’s too easy to forget the tastes of summer.

The way food is meant to be eaten, dripping down pinkies and chins, pooling into the nooks of the creaky wooden floors.

There is an urgency to it all. To enjoy to the fullest extent the tastes, sights, and sounds of the productive season. I’ve been blessed with some apricots in my house.

What could I make that would allow the true flavors of apricot to shine through?

I love jam. I have too much homemade jam. I like pie. Not enough. Traditional ice cream? Yessssssssssss.

This recipe is an adaptation of a few, and I took great liberties, so I suppose I can call it my own.

First, roast  10 medium – large apricots by slicing them and placing cut side up onto a roasting tray. Sprinkle with sugar, maybe a tablespoon to encourage caramelization.

Set oven to 375°F to roast. Turn the pan if needed, but don’t disturb the apricots.

This should take at least 30 minutes.

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This is the apricots before roasting. They will look almost melted and will have dark brown glaze dripping and pooling all around them.

The only other ingredients are pictured below: whole milk, cream, maple syrup, 2 eggs.

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In a small saucepan heat up 1 cup of maple syrup until just boiling, then turn it down to medium – low, add in the apricots and any liquid and let those simmer together for 10 minutes.

Then add in 1 cup of cream and 2 cups of whole milk. Add in a pinch of salt. Oops, that’s not pictured, sorry.

At this point, before the mixture gets too hot, use an immersion blender to blend in the apricots with the liquids. If you want larger chunks, blend lightly. Blend more for a smoother consistency, which is what I did.

Let the mixture come to a boil.

Whisk the 2 eggs in a bowl. Take a glass measuring cup and scoop some of the hot mixture to add in slowly to the eggs to temper them. Whisk while slowly streaming about a cup into the eggs. Repeat with another cup of the hot mixture, then the eggs should be tempered and ready to pour slowly into the hot boiling mixture.

Turn the heat down to medium – low and cook for about 3 minutes more. Wait until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Now place the mixture into a bowl and let it cool down. I set it on the counter for a while so that it wouldn’t heat up my refrigerator too much, then I placed it in the refrigerator overnight. I used some beeswax wrap to cover the bowl and it worked perfectly.

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The next morning I was ready to churn! I have a KitchenAid ice cream attachment which is nice because I don’t have to have a whole other appliance.

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Churning is fun! It might need scraped down at times.

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It should look thick when it is done.

Place into container of choice and back into the freezer to finish.

My sister said it was different and really yummy! I liked the slightly roasted flavor and felt it brought out a fuller, darker sweetness.

I have also made a vegan apricot-basil ice cream here.

Peace and love,

Kristan

Plastic Free Berries

Now is the time to take advantage of the low prices on abundant fruit to stock up for winter!

It’s honestly so easy to have berries ready for smoothies for basically the whole winter and into spring. I still have raspberries from last summer because I stretched out their use.  The summer previous was the first time I had frozen my own berries in glass jars so I was being extra cautious to not use them all up before more were available this season.

I’ll show how I do this and how I avoid making any trash in the process.

Start with fresh berries. My first choices are raspberries and blueberries. My mom and I picked the raspberries from her bushes, and I purchased the flat of blueberries for $24. They are local and delicious. I love blueberries fresh, so I’ve been eating more of them than freezing for right now. I’ll probably freeze more later.

I used a large and a small baking tray for the raspberries first. Simply place them in the freezer for a few hours and they should all be frozen. The reason you need to spread them out is so they don’t all just freeze together into one clump and become impossible to separate for smoothies / baking / snacking. I didn’t bother washing these as they would have taken forever to dry and would have become stuck to the tray. I trust the source of these and was not worried but had picked through them a bit before placing them onto the tray.

Blueberries are even easier than raspberries due to their spherical shape without so many crannies.

My freezer is regular size and the large tray fit fine in here. I know it’s very disorganized and needs a cleaning at the moment.

Once frozen, I used a metal spatula to just lift the raspberries from their frozen spots.

It’s easier to use a wide funnel for the regular mouth mason jars, but it’s not necessary.

So I have about 4 1/2 quarts of raspberries here which will last a long time! This took very little effort on my part and was also essentially free. The blueberries are a different story, of course, but will end up being much less expensive than frozen berries in the store, especially local berries.

I have 2 quarts of blueberries frozen from just the large tray and I’m sure I’ll freeze more soon.

I don’t have to use glass jars, but I trust that the lids will keep my berries sealed. I’m careful to not slam the jar down on the counter top and make sure these are placed safely in the freezer.

Peace and love,

Kristan