1007 Stewed

It’s on, baby!

Dinner tonight was entirely made up, just me chopping things and sticking them in the enameled pot.  I knew we had a bunch of veg, and I knew I wanted to make something that would cook itself while I exercised, and this is what I came up with: a sweet and savory stew that we spooned over a loaf of bread warmed in the oven during the last 10 minutes of cook time.  The rough recipe follows below, but you could absolutely make this with whatever root veg you had on hand, or you could substitute fresh tomatoes for the tomato paste, or red wine for the white wine, or butter for the oil, or beans for the sausage.  You get the idea.


Early Fall Stew

1 medium yellow onion
2 smallish bell peppers (from the garden!)
1/2 medium eggplant (just the neck part), peeled
2 cups mushrooms
3-4 stalks celery
3-4 medium-sized carrots
4 sausages (we used garlic chicken sausages from Trader Joe’s)
2-4 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
whatever herbs you have on hand
salt & freshly ground pepper
olive oil

Preheat your oven at 350F. Chop all of your veggies and slice the sausages into bite-sized pieces. In an oven-safe pot (with a lid, though you don’t need it right now) – I used our new enameled cast iron – heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion and let it sweat a bit. Add the rest of the veggies, a couple of tablespoons tomato paste, fresh herbs – I used oregano and rosemary because that’s what we have in our front garden, and a fair amount of salt and freshly ground pepper, tossing everything around so that the tomato paste coats a bit. Add the wine and simmer for a minute or so, then put the lid on and stick the pot in the oven for an hour or so.

Serve with crusty bread and a crisp beer or cider.


0812 Simple Food at SELMA

One of the best things about summer’s abundance is that it doesn’t take much to make an excellent meal.  Thick slices of tomato with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Corn on the cob, boiled for 7 minutes and then rolled in an herbed garlic butter.  A ripe peach sliced and topped with a little whipped cream.  Out of season, that tomato might look great, but it will lack the warmth of the summer sunshine.  The corn won’t be as sweet.  The peach won’t be exploding with rosy juices.

I volunteered at SELMA tonight, and when we broke for our shared dinner, I was reminded of this beautiful simplicity.  I brought roasted eggplant, squash, tomatoes, and a fair shake of salt and pepper – which was served alongside a caprese salad, vegetarian calzones filled with ratatouille, Rex‘s tomato jam and pickled green beans, and Olivia‘s honey peach ice cream.  After a couple of hours of stemming greens, scrubbing beets, whisking roux, and washing dishes, I was happy with a little bit of everything, and went home tired, full, and happy.

0731 Things Shane Won’t Eat

I’m taking advantage of the fact that Shane’s out of town to make a couple of things he definitely would not ever eat.  While I have to give him credit for trying new things and getting over several food hates in the last couple of years, certain members of the nightshade family remain outside the realm of his palate.  Sweet and hot peppers are great.  Potatoes are almost almost delicious.  Tomatillos make excellent salsa.  It’s just tomatoes and eggplant that are problematic.

Which is, I have to say, a damned shame.  It’s not that I love eggplant – in fact, I’ve never used it much – but I’d like to make more dishes with it, especially this time of year.  But tomatoes – I do so very much love tomatoes.  I love them in thick slices with a bit of salt on toast.  I love them bite-sized and consumed by the handful.  I love them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and fresh mozzarella.  I love them roasted with herbes de Provence.  I love the way the plants smell, and I love the crazy variety of heirlooms available at the market and in our garden.

Shane will happily eat most cooked tomatoes, but the raw product is out out out.  It’s a texture issue, and one that he’s been unable to overcome, despite repeated attempts.  I get it – I’m the same way about salmon – but it still makes me sad.  Oh well, more tomatoes for me, right?

And more tomatoes for gazpacho:


I used this recipe, which resulted in a large bowl of vibrant – but disappointing – red soup.  The problem? texture.  The flavors were good, but the bread to wet stuff ratio was off, resulting in some serious texture issues.  Ironic, right?  I enjoyed it, but will be trying one of the recipes from this article next time.  Also disappointing was the fact that I didn’t have a camera handy, and so the only photo I have of the beautiful prep bowl is from my cameraphone.

More successful, however, was the eggplant “caviar” – basically a puree dip of roasted eggplant, olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs.  I over-garlicked, as I am wont to do, and it was excellent.  I ate it on toast, then dipped chips in the leftovers.  I have another medium-sized eggplant in the fridge and am oh so tempted to make more, though I’m not sure Shane would be able to kiss or sleep next to me, what with the garlic and all.  If you like eggplant, I definitely recommend this one.

Chilled Gazpacho Andaluz in the Style of Pedro Almodóvar from The Kitchn
Eggplant Caviar from David Lebovitz