Getting back into the routine of cooking after a crazy cross-country move has been very easy given the robust natural bounty of the Sacramento valley.
We recently played host to Liz's sister and I wanted to make something hearty and festive. I thought, hey, maybe a lasagna, but maybe lighten it up a little.
Liz had read about swapping out the noodles for zucchini, and I had some boss Japanese eggplants, and I thought, hey, ratatouille is pretty standard summer business, what if I layered it up with some tomato sauce and cashew-tofu ricotta and served it up in delicious layers.
I got some quick tomato sauce started in a pan by sauteing down
- 1/2 a small onion
- 1 carrot
- 2 stalks of celery, and
- 3 cloves of garlic, with
- a hearty dollop of olive oil.
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme and
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary and mixed in the contents of
- one 28-oz can of whole peeled tomatoes.
After this simmered for a while, I splashed in
- 1 to 1/2 oz dry vermouth
and hit it with the immersion blender.
This didn't seem to be enough sauce, so I added
- 1 8 oz can of tomato paste and
- a half-cup of water.
Next time I'll just make a double batch, and just deal with any leftover delicious sauce, oh no...
In the meantime, I stemmed and halved
- four Japanese eggplants
and set them in the steamer to soften. When they were ready, I sliced them into strips along with
- about five smallish zucchinis.
I chopped up a handful of kalamata olives I found in the fridge and food-processed up
- 1 batch of cashew-tofu ricotta, (recipe forthcoming).
Then, I set the oven to 400 and started layering in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan.
Sauce, then eggplant, then zucchini, then tofu, then some olives and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. Repeat these layers once and top with whatever tomato sauce you have left. Bake, covered with foil, at 400, until the zucchini is soft, and then uncovered for about 15 minutes.
It turned out great!