Tooth Extraction and Comfort Food

So, a week ago, I had one of my molars extracted. Apparently it is very painful to live with a cracked tooth, made even worse with an abscess. Ouch. So, I’ve been doped up on antibiotics, probiotics and pain meds. I’ve also been living off of oatmeal and pudding for the last week.

So, apologize that I haven’t posted anything new for a couple of weeks.

But fear not, dear reader, I’m back with a Bang! This weeks lunch is going to be epic. We’re talking bigger than big. Flavor-packed Italian Stew.

Zucchini, and eggplant, and onions, oh my! Throw in some red and yellow peppers some whole tomatoes,  fresh basil, and fresh oregano and a dash of olive oil…..and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an Italian Kitchen.

Oh yeah, it’s totally vegetarian, Bonus!

Without further adieu, may I present

Italian Vegetable Stew (a.k.a. – Ciambotta)

courtesy of Sweet Peas Kitchen20160221_162029-1.jpg

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Ingredients:

For the Pestata
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
For the Stew
  • 12 oz eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 tsp salt, divided plus more to taste
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste (no salt added variety)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved and chopped coarse
  • 2 medium zucchini, seeded and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 cup shredded fresh basil

Instructions:

To make the Pestata: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process all ingredients until finely ground, about a  minute.

For the Stew:

  1. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1 1/2 tsp of salt.
  2. On a microwave safe plate, place two paper towels and spread eggplant in a single layer.
  3. Microwave eggplant, uncovered, until dry to touch and slightly shriveled, 8-12 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
  4. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large Dutch oven over high heat, until shimmering. Add eggplant, onion, and potatoes; cook stirring frequently until eggplant browns and surface of potatoes becomes translucent.
  5. Push vegetables to sides of pot and add 1 Tbsp of oil and tomato paste to clearing. Cook paste, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add 2 cups of water and chopped tomatoes and juice. scraping up any browned bits, and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and gently simmer until eggplant is completely broken down and potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 Tbsp of oil in skillet over high heat until smoking.
  9. Add zucchini, bell peppers, and 1/2 tsp of salt; cook for 10 to 12 minutes.
  10. Push vegetables to sides of skillet and Pestata and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  11. Stir Pestata into vegetables. Cook another 3 minutes.
  12. Transfer vegetables to Dutch oven and remove from heat.
  13. Cover and let set for 20 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

 

Fire-Roasted Vegetarian Gumbo and Mardi Gras

slightly adapted from allrecipes20160209_065647.jpg

Happy Mardi Gras, y’all! Here is a spicy, warm little number to get your taste-buds dancing. Oooooie! Dat’s some good cookin’!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Serrano pepper
  • 1 banana pepper
  • 1 small jalapeno chile pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil ( I used Sunflower oil)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can black-eyed peas
  • 1 bag of frozen cut okra

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. Arrange Serrano, banana, and jalapeno chile peppers on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Watch carefully and broil until the skins turn black and blister, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the peppers and continue broiling until all sides are blackened. Remove the peppers and put in an small sauce pan with lid to steam (about 10 to 15 minutes). Remove peppers from the sauce pan and peel off the crispy black skin. Remove stems and seeds from the peppers, coarsely chop and place in a bowl.
  3. In another small sauce pan, heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil over medium heat until a pinch of flour starts to bubble. Whisk the rest of the flour into the oil and cook, whisking continuously until the mixture is well-blended and dark brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Once it turns dark brown, remove from heat.
  4. Put 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a deep soup pot and heat over medium-high heat. When hot, add celery, half of the onions and half of the green peppers. Cook and stir until the vegetables are tender and the onions are transparent, about 5 minutes. Stir 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth into the pot. Cover and simmer until almost all the liquid is gone, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Stir the Serrano, banana, and jalapeno chile peppers, along with the uncooked bell peppers, onions, garlic, Cajun seasonings, smoked paprika into the cooked bell peppers and onions. Stir in the roux (dark brown sauce) and 1 cup of vegetable broth into the vegetable mixture until the roux dissolves. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sweet potato, parsnip, red beans, black-eyed peas, okra and remaining vegetable broth. Simmer covered for 15 minutes. And then, simmer 20 minutes uncovered.

Tip: To bump up the heat a notch, add a teaspoon of File’ Powder to the pot in step 5.

Slow Cooker Tuscan Lentil Sloppy Joes

courtesy of Slender Kitchen20160207_105150-1.jpg

Ok, I just have to say, this is my new favorite vegetarian lunch. It tastes awesome. Very close to sloppy Joes, but better.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups lentils, uncooked
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped small
  • 2 green peppers, chopped small
  • 2 cups of mushrooms, chopped or sliced
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth (low sodium)
  • 2.5 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1.5 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher
  • 1 tsp pepper

Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker and stir.
  2. Cook on High for 3-4 hours, on Low for 7-8 hours.

Tip: If you notice the mixture getting dry, add extra vegetable broth.