Skillet Ratatouille and Chicken

Back in late July-early August when we were on our family vacation on the Crystal Coast, we stayed in a friend’s condo complete with deck-side pool and an awesome view of the ocean. I love this particular beach because it was where I met Hubby over 17 years ago. We could even see the pier where we first met from our location just a quarter of a mile away down the beach. Even better was that both the boys wanted to see where their parents first met.

While we were there we ate some great food, including local seafood (boy, have we missed that since moving off the island!) and other wonderfully prepared culinary delights at a few of the local hotspots. But there were times that I cooked, too. I kept it simple for the most part; tacos and pasta, baked herbed chicken, roasted veggies, salads, etc.

At one point as Number Two and I were wandering around the grocery store trying to decide what to make, he suggested Ratatouille. I was a little surprised at first because I’m not so sure he realized what he was asking for. So I told him. And he still seemed totally up for it. So I was like, heck yeah! But alas, there were no yellow squash in stock and I really wasn’t feeling particularly creative, so needless to say we had to pass on the ratatouille.

Since then I have come across this awesome recipe for a one-skillet meal incorporating ratatouille. How can this go wrong? I am so excited to share this with you guys because I do love me some Ratatouille. Click the link for my previous post on Millefeuille Ratatouille, which is the layered kind seen in Disney’s movie Ratatouille. This recipe was adapted from Rachael Ray.

skillet ratatouiile

Skillet Ratatouille and Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 T EVOO

1 small eggplant

1 yellow bell pepper

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 small zucchini

1 large yellow squash

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup red wine

1 cup chicken broth

2 T butter

1/3 cup chopped parsley

salt & pepper

Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Prep your veggies. Peel eggplant and cut into 34-inch pieces. De-stem and seed the bell pepper, cutting it into 1/2-inch pieces.  Trim the zucchini and squash, quartering it lengthwise and again crosswise in 1/2-inch thick pieces.

2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat large skillet over medium heat and add 1 T of EVOO. Cook the chicken about 10 minutes, turning over once, and remove from skillet.

3. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Let it simmer a few minutes. Add the butter and broth and simmer a few minutes more. Set aside.

4. Put in some EVOO and add the eggplant to the skillet and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Ladle in some of the wine/broth as needed. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

5. Add the remaining  EVOO and cook the bell pepper and onion, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add in the zucchini and squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes; Stirring often. Ladle in wine/broth as needed. Season with salt & pepper.

6. Add the tomatoes and reserved eggplant, then the chicken and remaining wine/broth. Cover and bring to a brisk simmer.

7. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, partially covered, until the vegetables are very soft and the meat pulls apart easily using two forks; 30 minutes.

8. Serve over rice or noodles with grated cheese.

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Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini with Ragu

I’ve noticed a few Facebook and Pinterest re-posts going around for something very similar to this. It seems to happen occasionally that I’ll put something on my menu plan and several weeks later when I’m finally getting to it it’s already hit the blog circuit. Does this mean I have awesome food instincts??

Yeah…unlikely, I know.

Well, whatever it is, I can’t be too far off the foodie path, I just wish sometimes that I had something with a little “wow” factor. Hopefully this will make someone happy, as it did me. I found this recipe through TLC’s Take Home Chef, but I had to adapt it quite a bit as I’ve noticed that chef Curtis Stone likes to really stretch his culinary skills and I’m just a bit of an underachiever most days 🙂

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Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini with Ragu

1 T EVOO

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

2 tsp thyme

1 bay leaf

1 tsp basil

salt & pepper

extra zucchini, chopped*

3 zucchini

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

3/4 cup grated or shredded mozzarella

1/2 grated Parmesan cheese

pepper

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1. To get the ragu started it’s best if you have about an hour. First saute the onions in the EVOO, then add it to the diced tomatoes, extra zucchini, and the wine, with 1 tsp thyme and the bay leaf, over medium-high heat and reduce it by a third. Sauce will be thickened. (20-30 minutes)

2. Meanwhile, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and spoon out the seeds. If the zucchini are still a bit hard inside just run a sharp knife down each side and score it a little. This will help when scooping out the seeds. *Also, if your zucchini are different lengths, you can cut them all the same and chop up the excess for the ragu, other wise I highly recommend you chopping up a fourth, smaller, zucchini to add to the sauce. It’s just a tomato sauce without it, and while it’s still good, the zucchini really adds something to it.

3. Combine the tomato sauce to your ragu along with the remaining tsp of thyme and the basil. Salt and pepper to taste and allow to simmer, stirring often, for another 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350*. Combine the three cheeses together in a small bowl using a fork. Season  with pepper, and mound the cut-side of the zucchini with the cheese mixture.

5. Lightly spray a 7 x 11 baking dish. Spoon the ragu into the bottom of the dish and place the stuffed zucchini on top. Bake for 20 minutes. Then broil for an additional 10 minutes. Zucchini will be tender but if you prefer them more cooked through try pre-cooking them a bit before assembly or leaving it in the oven at 250* for an extra 15-20 minutes.

I served this over Parmesan Couscous and it was amazing. A very satisfying vegetarian and, if you serve it with rice, a gluten-free meal.

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Zucchini Tomato Feta Spaghetti Frittata

In my search for great vegetarian dishes I came across two different frittata recipes. One called for linguine and greens (any kind such as collards), and the other, zucchini and tomato. Well, they both sounded so good that I just couldn’t decide. So instead of choosing I simply adapted both recipes and combined them into one fantastic frittata!

Zucchini Tomato Feta Spaghetti Frittata

1 Tbsp. EVOO

1 small onion, diced

2 large zucchini, or 3 smaller ones sliced about 1/4 inch thick

1-2 large tomato, sliced

1 Tbsp. fresh Thyme leaves (or 1 tsp. dried)

Salt & Pepper

9 large eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup feta, chopped up

1/4 grated parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups cooked whole wheat  spaghetti or linguine

Pre-heat oven to 425*. In a 10-inch oven-proof skillet over medium heat, warm oil. Add zucchini, onion, and thyme and cook, covered, stirring often, until tender but not browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. {I browned mine anyway because that’s how I roll and it turned out great. So don’t panic if your stove top is hotter than any other in the whole world, like mine is.} Uncover, and cook until all the liquid in the pan evaporates. Season with salt and pepper, remove skillet from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Add parmesan cheese and whisk briefly again. Stir in noodles. Pour egg mixture over zucchini. Use a fork to gently combine the vegetables with the noodles {You could cut the noodles up into smaller pieces before to make this easier. I didn’t because I like to make things difficult for myself. It still turned out fine} and to allow the beaten eggs to coat the bottom of the pan. Top with feta cheese and tomato slices.

Place skillet in oven and allow egg to cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until egg mixture is fluffy, slightly browned, and center is set. You can set the broiler on the last few minutes.

Remove from oven; gently slide a heatproof spatula around the edges and underneath to loosen from skillet. Serve immediately.

There are so many ways to make a frittata!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Meatless Monday recipe 🙂

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Zucchini Noodles

If you missed post #1 for today click this link here and read New Year, New Box

Now, on to post #2……………….

One of my favorite dishes to make whilst eating healthy is zucchini noodles. I came across this idea several years ago from some cooking resource, I honeslty can’t remember, and as soon as I tried it I knew it was a winner.

I never was much of a spaghetti-maker. At Italian restaurants I’d never order something as plain as spaghetti because I could make that at home, whereas I don’t make canneloni. But then I realized that I really didn’t make spaghetti at home hardly ever. I make chicken parmagian and other pasta dishes, but never plain old noodles and sauce. But then I discoverd Harris Teeters pre-made turkey meatballs in the fresh meat section and I have made spaghetti quite a bit since then. So on nights I need a quick meal, spaghetti and meatballs it is. Now, I always serve my family whole wheat pasta, but during those times when I don’t want to eat any pasta at all, I make zucchini noodles for myself and regular for the boys.

How to make:

Choose 3 to 4 zucchinis, firm and ripe, and wash thoroughly. Use a vegetable peeler and peel long strips from one end to the other, using the skin because that’s the most nutritous part. Continue to peel strips all the way around the vegetable until you’ve hit the seeded core. Do what you want with the core. I eat all manner of vegetables raw so this part is good chopped up and added to a salad. Take all your “noodles” and sautee them down in a pan heated with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), and a little salt and pepper. The zucchini will cook down considerably, so what looks like a lot when raw, does not once sauteed. Still you should get a decent sized meal out of this, possibly with a little leftovers. It should only take about 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the meantime have your sauce already on the stove. I use a jarred organic. I don’t have time for making tomato sauce from scratch, plus I’ve tried it and wasn’t impressed with my efforts. It seemed tedious. So if anyone out there has a fabulous red sauce recipe, I’ll be more than happy to try it. Plus, my hubby is red sauce crazy. He could probably just drink it. And I always doctor up the jarred stuff with basil and garlic, etc. Once everything is ready, just ladle up those plates of noodles with sauce and meatballs, add a little parmesan, and viola!

It’s is super yummy and healthy! Let me know if you’ve tried it and what you think 🙂

Ratatouille

Ya’ll remember the animated movie Ratatouille? Ever since I watched that for the first time I’ve wanted to make ratatouille. Not just any ratatouille, but that ratatouille. And apparently I’m not the only one. In my search for this recipe I came across many images and recipes on Google. I choose one from a blog called opensourcefood. Since this is someone else’s recipe I will not repost it here but have provided a link so that you may check out the recipe for yourself if you wish. But I did make it and here are the results!

Base Sauce

In my usual way I did tweak one thing about this recipe. The sauce wasn’t really all that…saucey, so I added about 5 oz. V8 juice and puree’d it.

I love this slicing gadget from Pampered Chef

Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Eggplant, and Tomato

The recipe calls for Japanese Eggplant. I am not sure what that even is? Out here on the island there are slim pickings, so I used a regular purple eggplant. Also, for the sauce it asked for shallots. No such luck in my grocery store. So a bunch of green onions did the trick.

pre-cooked

Cooked- Beautiful!

I served this with some leftover bulgur, and it was delicious! I ate a whole row 🙂 I did give the boys a few slices to taste but they weren’t impressed (what’s wrong with them? haha).  Cory will be so jealous that he missed this!

I felt so good eating this, and actually I found that I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. If you’re a veggie-lover then you will love this dish!

So this made me think of something else a little bit fun. I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love movies. What could be better than some of my favorite things combined? I decided to share a list of my favorite movies that feature cooking 🙂 Happy viewing and cooking to you!

Ratatouille

Julie & Julia

No Reservations

I know there are many others, but these are my top picks.

Stay tuned for post #2: The Day the Christmas Tree Died

 

Food on Friday