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

Pasta and Beans with Garlic Butter Sage Sauce

You may know I am enamored with the combination of pasta & beans; many types of pasta, many types of beans. There are special pairs that marry and complement well, but I haven’t yet found a match that didn’t work.

The inspiration for this dish came from a desire to use fewer dishes, hence cooking the beans & pasta together, albeit staggered, and also a trip to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho where my husband and I ate a fantastic meal at an unassuming restaurant. I have tried on a few occasions to replicate the creamy, dreamy, sagey beans I ate there as well as the hibiscus & lavender iced tea. It’s honestly extremely refreshing to have vegetarian options that are not a hummus platter, boring veggie sandwich, or some hobbled together side dishes.

Coincidentally, this week I did use Zero Waste Chef’s recipe for making fermented hibiscus soda and it is AMAZING. It also fermented so fast, I burped it on the second day and the contents shot out all over my ceiling and staircase. Kind of a disaster, but it’s my fault for leaving it in a room that was reaching 88F.

The sauce is simply minced garlic and sage leaves fried in some butter, then added olive oil. Nothing else is needed when ingredients are fresh, local, and high quality.

The sage is from my herb garden. The plant has been going strong for at least four years now! I like how the beans find themselves nestled into the pasta shells. It makes for a fun eating experience!

What you could use to make this dish:

Small white navy beans*

Pasta shells

Butter (or just olive oil)

Salt

Sage leaves

Garlic

*What I have been doing when soaking beans is to add salt to the soaking water so they are soaking in a brine rather than plain water and it increases the flavor of the beans exponentially. Soak overnight, then drain the brine.

Add beans to a pot with plenty of water and some more salt.

Cook until nearly tender, then add the pasta and cook until beans and pasta are both perfect textures. Overdone beans are much more pleasant than overdone pasta. Drain the water, then put back into the pan.

Chop garlic and add to a small sauce or frying pan with a pat of butter and the sage. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes, then add in some olive oil and heat until warm.

Top the bean and pasta mixture with the sage and butter sauce.

Enjoy!

Peace and love,

Kristan

Kimchi Fried Rice & Eggs

One pot meals are my obsession. What’s not to love about making a smaller mess and enjoying a big plate or bowl full of delicious food cooked together? Simple often means better, neater, and faster in the world of cooking. This doesn’t mean I toss everything in a pan or pot and let it simmer away; this kind of cooking still requires forethought and planning. P8151026.JPG

I fermented some kimchi for the first time about a month ago and found a recipe for kimchi fried rice. I made it and loved it for its flavor as well as for the ease in which it came together as a meal.

When I made kimchi again recently, I knew this same recipe would become a part of my rotation. Rice must be made ahead and kept refrigerated prior to making your fried rice. This batch was made probably a week ago. Oops! I used my hens’ eggs for this meal, which makes me happy and grateful for the space to have hens and their companionship. Whenever I collect eggs I say, “Thank you for the eggs!”

P8151028.JPG

The eggs were fried with butter in a cast iron skillet first, then put into a bowl and set aside. I added more butter, then the rice. Once it was heated up a bit, I chopped up some of my kimchi, threw it in, tossed it around with some sesame oil, then added the eggs back in.P8151031.JPG

I once saw a zero waste blogger sipping her smoothie out of her blender with a caption that said something about zero wasting your life: save dishes and drink right from the container. That is something that I strive to do in the kitchen. I use the same pan to cook eggs then rice, the same bowl to beat the eggs, store them while I cook rice, then to eat the rice from when it’s done!

P8151034.JPG

This meal is simple, nutritious, and tasty. It may not be vibrantly colorful in photographs, but it is full of flavor. The kimchi is actually quite spicy! I also added some bulk bought Bragg’s Liquid Aminos because I love my salt! This was overall a perfect meal to enjoy after a long day back at school setting up my classroom.

Peace and love,

Kristan