Monthly Archives: November 2012

Ciambotta

 

A delicious light stew from the southern part of Italy

 This delicious rustic Italian stew is a cross between a Ratatouille and a Primavera sauce – in fact, depending on how you serve it, it could be either! Originally from Sicily, many versions of this stew exist, and are subject to the whims of your pantry. Eggplant, tomatoes, and fresh basil are must-haves in the composition. The rest is at the discretion of the cook!

For my version, I added fresh fennel which added a nice liquorish crunch to the dish. Bell peppers added some colour, and spinach and mushrooms added nice texture contrasts. The dish is simply seasoned with some red wine vinegar, chili flakes and fresh basil, making it a nice light change to the hearty winter stews of the season. Serve with some chickpeas or socca bread, and it’s a complete meal! Pour on top of pasta, and you have a saucy change to the standard primavera. Yet another dimension of Italian cooking, proving that there is more to the country than spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna!

 

Ciambotta

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 lbs. eggplant, cubed
1½ cup red onion, diced large
1 bulb fennel, cubed
2 bell peppers, diced large
5 cloves garlic, minced
1½ lbs. zucchini, cubed
2½ cups tomatoes, diced large OR 1 (28oz.) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp. chili pepper flakes
½ cup fresh basil, chiffoned
salt and pepper, to taste

Optional:
2 tbsp. capers
¾ lb. Potatoes, cubed
celery
mushrooms
cauliflower
greens: spinach, kale, Swiss chard

Directions:
1) Sauté onion, garlic, and fennel in olive oil until onion soft
2) Add eggplant. Stir. Add water as necessary to prevent sticking. Cook until eggplant beginning to soften, approx. 10min.
3) Add bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, vinegar, and chili flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all veggies are tender, approx. 15min.
4) Stir in fresh basil, salt, pepper, and optional capers and greens. Simmer approx. 5min.
5) Serve as a soup, over pasta, with bread, or with socca.

 


Winter Vegetable Thai Pumpkin Curry in Roasted Pumpkin Bowl

Creamy, spicy, and altogether pleasing, this winter vegetable curry will have you crawling back for more! And yes, you can eat the bowl too!

This Thai Pumpkin Curry is what I imagine Thanksgiving in Thailand would be like. Rutabagas, turnips, potatoes, brussels sprouts, carrots, and pumpkin are slow cooked in a pureed pumpkin red Thai curry sauce. A bunch of kale is added near the end for a pop of green and another layer of texture, then ladled with love into a roasted pumpkin bowl. The bowl is delicious and a tasty addition to the curry, but the curry can also be served in a bowl. The list of ingredients and vegetables is definitely not what people classically think when they see the words “Brussels sprouts” but I guarantee that after a morsel of this creamy spicy curry is tasted they will never crave sickly-sweet maple Brussels sprouts again! The roasted pumpkin bowl is highly recommended, however if your oven is like mine and you quickly run out of real estate when roasting winter squash, feel no shame in saving the fresh pumpkin and throwing a bit extra into the curry!

The curry sauce itself is composed of a homemade fiery red Thai curry paste that is a “dump and puree” procedure. Add to this fresh roasted pumpkin, and a half-and-half mixture of coconut milk and almond milk and puree some more. This sauce is very versatile, and would be at home in a spring Thai curry just as much as a winter one. Or use as a salad dressing, topping for a pasta dish (if you add some nutritional yeast you would have spicy Thai curry mac and cheese!), or leave it as is for a pureed soup. The almond milk cuts the richness of the coconut milk, making the curry sauce more flavourful and less rich. The vegetables you add are completely up to you – Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, or whatever your freezer is bursting with! If you think it would taste good, throw it in! Once you have gathered, diced, and cut your desired veggies, they are quickly sautéed and then simmered in this curry sauce until al dente and delicious. If you are addicted to fresh greens like I am, add them in and stir until they are bright green and wilted just a bit. Sprinkle with some lime juice, cilantro, and serve with some Sriracha if you can take it! This is without a doubt my new favourite winter holiday meal. Step aside boring steamed squash and maple-syrup brussels sprouts – fiery red Thai curry is here to stay!

The full recipe is from Eric Tucker’s Millennium Cookbook (pg. 133-135), which has been prominently featured here previously. It is my go-to for something fancy or different, and always delivers fresh bold flavours and flavour combinations that I would have never dreamed up myself! So give yourself and your Brussels sprouts a treat and cook this delectable dish this year – save the maple syrup for dessert!


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