Layered Summer Ratatouille

Summery Ratatouille

Continuing with the theme of recipes that use up all of your summer produce: Ratatouille! 

Admittedly my garden has been very slow to produce this year probably due to the hailstorm in mid-June, but I’m guessing most of you don’t have that problem, so you’ll be able to make use of this recipe soon!

Is there a more beautiful way to display summer produce than a ratatouille? An array of color, layers of vegetables. And it's really quite simple to make, easier than pie! Easier than it looks — that’s for sure. 

So what is ratatouille? There are two different versions: one where all the vegetables are stewed together, and this one, where delicate rounds of tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant are arranged over an herby tomato sauce. That’s it! From there you can customize: add protein to the sauce, top with fresh cheese or herbs, you name it.

Summery Ratatouille
Summery Ratatouille

I served this version over Ina Garten's Parmesan polenta and OMG... I don’t think I’ve ever had such delicious polenta. I wouldn’t call it healthy or anything of that nature. But it is soooo good! And goes perfectly well with this ratatouille, rounding out the meal.

Can you believe it’s August already? Where has the time gone?! 

Summery Ratatouille

Layered Summer Ratatouille

Published August 2, 2018 by
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Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 70 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 skinny eggplant
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper, any color
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, or 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • For serving: minced fresh basil, shredded parmesan.
  • Optional: if you would like to add protein to this recipe, 1 cup of cooked hot Italian sausage crumbles.

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
    2. In the bottom of a 9x9inch baking dish, spread the tomato paste in an even layer. Sprinkle with onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, and basil. If you are using the sausage, spread crumbles over tomato paste layer at this time.
    3. Slice the zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, and bell pepper into thin rounds. Arrange the rounds in overlapping rows over the tomato paste layer. Brush with oil, and then season with salt & pepper.
    4. Bake for 50 minutes, until veggies are softened through an golden on the edges. Top with minced fresh bail and shredded parmesan. Serve hot.

    No-Noodle Lasagna

    No-Noodle Lasagna

    The first lasagna recipe I published on this blog called for twenty ingredients. TWENTY! That is not a typo. (I'm embarrassed to even link to that recipe, oh how much I've learned since 2015!)

    Lasagna is one of those things that just has a lot of components, but I was on a mission with this one: Simplify. Because some weeks, even just having twenty ingredients on your shopping list is stressful. Right??

    This version has less than half that number of ingredients. That said, it still needs to bake for 50 minutes, so if you are trying to serve this on a weeknight, doing all the prep ahead of time will help you out.

    No-Noodle Lasagna
    No-Noodle Lasagna

    This one is about the essentials:

    • A good marinara sauce. I used store bought, but you can also use this 20-minute recipe. I'm all for homemade but some times you have to cut yourself a break! 
    • Ricotta cheese. Any excuse to use ricotta cheese is welcome, if you ask me. But it's also the creamy layer in lasagna, and arguably the best part. 
    • Mozzarella! You might be thinking, two different kinds of cheese? Yes! (And a third, if you keep reading). Mozzarella adds the gooey, stringy cheese texture to the top of the casserole. And that third cheese? Parmesan, which I mostly added for good measure, and also it's flavor.
    • Meat. In this case, Italian Sausage. I love the flavor of hot Italian sausage, but you could easily use ground beef if you prefer. Many chefs choose to mix the two, in fact, but again simple was the name of the game here.
    • Noodles -- but in this case, actually eggplant sliced thin and used in place of noodles. Eggplant goes so well with lasagna flavors. Bring on the veggies!

    What is not essential to lasagna is the spinach layer, but I added it in because if I'm going to be cooking a lasagna, I may as well cover all of my bases instead of also making a side salad. 

    No-Noodle Lasagna
    No-Noodle Lasagna

    No-Noodle Lasagna

    Published July 12, 2018 by
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    Serves: 8   |    Active Time: 90 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups marinara sauce (choose one that has basil or garlic, or make your own )
  • 1-2 eggplants (1 large or 2 medium)
  • 16 ounces ricotta
  • 16 ounces hot Italian sausage, ground
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Optional: minced parsley for garnish

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 450°F, and slice eggplants in thin, long strips — about 1/4-inch thick. Spread slices out in a single layer on a sheet pan, and brush with olive oil. Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes, until eggplant begins to soften.
    2. Meanwhile, brown sausage in a skillet over medium heat. Once cooked, set aside.
    3. Place thawed spinach in a strainer, and squeeze out as much extra water as possible.
    4. Make the lasagna: spread 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9x16-inch baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant strips as “noodles” in a single layer. Spread ricotta cheese over eggplant, and then top with sausage crumbles. Next, spread the spinach in a layer. Spread 1/2 cup sauce over top, and then layer the remaining eggplant in a second layer. Top with another 1/2 cup of sauce, and then top with shredded mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan.
    5. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F, and bake lasagna covered for 25 minutes, and then uncovered for 25 minutes.
    6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then top with minced parsley. Slice and serve. Top with parmesan if desired.

    Homestyle Sausage, Potato & Spinach Soup

    Homestyle Sausage, Potato & Spinach Soup

    On a cold and misty day, my mom and I meandered down a paved path in the bay area. My mom stopped on the side of the path and held a tree's leaves between her fingers. "Laurel trees," she explained, and when I still didn't quite get it she said, "Bay Leaves."

    I've never given bay leaves their dues: they are easy to skip, as a whole pot of soup usually only calls for one or two leaves. They are subtle, so skipping them is never the end of the world. But delicate flavors have always ranked high in my mom's book: florals, herbals, and creams. 

    In the winter she'd make soups with leeks and kielbasa, and stir in cream or (and) shredded provolone at the last minute before turning off the heat. She never skipped the bay leaves. 

    Homestyle Sausage, Potato & Spinach Soup
    Homestyle Sausage, Potato & Spinach Soup

    This soup is an ode to that day, when I discovered how beautiful laurel trees are and remembered why bay leaves are so important. It is nothing fancy: onions, potatoes, sausage, and spinach in a creamy broth. But simplicity is key here, as you can throw it all in the pot (along with two bay leaves), and let it simmer while you change into slippers, pour a glass of wine, or nibble on a cheese plate. 

    Winter officially "arrives" this week, which makes it the perfect time to make a simple cozy soup. Bites of spicy sausage and slurps of flavorful broth will warm you to the bone.

    Homestyle Sausage, Potato & Spinach Soup

    Homestyle Sausage, Potato & Spinach Soup

    Published December 19, 2017 by
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    Serves: 8   |    Total Time: 30 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 1 large yellow onion, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 stalks celery, diced small
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil 
    • 4 sausages (about 1/2 pound); I used Teton Waters Ranch Hot Links (available at Costco) but you can experiment here. Try kielbasa or spicy Italian to mix it up!
    • 2 cups new potatoes, quartered 
    • 2 large carrots, diced small
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
    • Dash cayenne 
    • 1 cup heavy cream 
    • 4 cups baby spinach 

    Directions:

      Instant Pot Instructions:
    1. Heat coconut oil in the bottom of your Instant Pot (affiliate link) on the sauté setting. Add diced onion, minced garlic, and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
    2. Slice sausages into bite sized pieces, and add to pot, browning for 3-5 minutes. Then, add potatoes, carrots, bay leaves, broth, pepper, salt and dash of cayenne.
    3. Turn Instant Pot to Soup setting, seal lid, and set timer for 10 minutes.
    4. When the timer goes off, release pressure and open pot. Stir in spinach and cream. The spinach will wilt from the heat of the soup. Add additional salt & pepper to taste, and serve hot.

      Stove Top Instructions:
    1. Heat coconut oil in the bottom of a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add diced onion, minced garlic, and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
    2. Slice sausages into bite sized pieces, and add to pot, browning for 3-5 minutes. Then, add potatoes, carrots, bay leaves, broth, pepper, salt and dash of cayenne.
    3. Bring soup to a simmer, and place lid on pot. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
    4. Turn off heat and, stir in spinach and cream. The spinach will wilt from the heat of the soup. Add additional salt & pepper to taste, and serve hot.