Thursday, October 9, 2014
Ricotta Dip and Ratatouille
Football season. Our Colts are now three and two. Robert Mathis was back on the sidelines. Andrew Luck ran in for a touchdown. The opposing quarterback got sacked three times. Yeah, it was a fun game. Now, they're playing a Thursday night game and I'm beyond nervous...
Friday we met some friends at Taverna. It's a restaurant close to our home. We keep meeting friends there hoping that they'll go back and take other friends. We'd love to see the place packed. Actually, Friday there was a MUCH better crowd than most evenings. I had my favorite meal: grilled wedge salad with parmesan feta dressing, kona crusted filet with red wine/chocolate sauce, mushroom rice, creamed spinach and bread pudding. Actually, the last three are cooling their heels in the fridge. Lunch was too late for me to be very hungry.
Saturday I had appointments all day. Then, we headed over to Uncle Lou's for dinner. Lou used to office on the same floor so we got to know each other riding the elevator up and down. He lives about five minutes away. And, did I mention that he's a total hoot to be around? He made fabulous poached salmon and a pasta/herb/veggie dish.
Dessert was cannoli cake. He had a heckuva time talking the folks at the grocery into selling him the pieces and parts of cannoli instead of the completed dish. The cake was AHMAZING! I took an appetizer. Turns out one of the guests was allergic to garlic. That limited my choices. Fortunately, I was reading the latest edition of Food Network Magazine and found a ricotta dip. It was perfect.
Then, Sunday was the Colts game. I got up really early and worked for a few hours before it was time to leave. Then, during timeouts and halftime I thought about dinner and the next week's lunches. What did we have? Leftover ricotta dip. That'd make great homemade ravioli. With a lemon cream and asparagus sauce. That'd also take a LOT of time. We had about ten basil plants to pluck and make pesto with. There were also about half a dozen little eggplants I'd picked before the threat of frost. Those would make great ratatouille.
And, there was white rice from last week's garlic chicken and pork fried rice carryout. That'd make great fried rice with mushrooms, carrots, celery and zucchini.
We also had Uncle Lou's leftover pasta. But, that was earmarked for Monday evening when Connie was playing bridge and we needed a super quick dinner.
Around our house, leftovers are lunches and revised dinners. We work seven days a week so being smart about cooking is important.
So, let's talk about recipes. Ratatouille first. It's one of those dishes I like to make a lot of and freeze in pint containers for lunches. I love that it's so incredibly flexible...
2 T olive oil
1 large eggplant, peeled and diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 zucchini or yellow squash, diced
1 green pepper, diced (optional)
6 oz button or cremini mushrooms, diced (optional)
2 ribs celery, diced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Italian seasoning
1 8 oz can V8
salt and pepper
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil to shimmering. Add vegetables and sauté until softened. Add V8 and simmer for about 2 hours. This is a dish that needs to simmer for a long time. Add more V8 if you want to keep it moist enough. I think it's better served the next day.
2 lb container of ricotta cheese (NOT lowfat)
zest of 2 lemons
thyme (2-4 teaspoons)
rosemary (2-4 teaspoons, chopped finely)
crushed red pepper (1/4 - 1/2teaspoon)
1 c finely grated parmesan cheese
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
Mix the ricotta, lemon zest, thyme, rosemary and crushed red pepper. Put the cheese in a baking dish. Sprinkle with the shredded parmesan. Bake at 350 until bubbling. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve with sliced, toasted baguette or really good crunchy crackers (we like Triscuit.)
adapted from FoodNetwork Magazine