Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ratatouille provencale (p. 274) and Tofu Salad (p. 317)

When I think of Ratatouille provencale (p. 274) I think of the movie about the cooking rat. And, I'm sorry to Ratatouille (the movie) lovers out there--it just didn't do anything for me. The idea of all those rats in the kitchen was really, really gross. Esp. the end of the movie.

I've been putting off making ratatouille for a while because of my hatred of red peppers. Red peppers don't seem to be an optional ingredient in the dish and Josh was unlikely to want to eat an entirely vegan dish several times. My mom loves red peppers and zucchini and I'm convinced she would love eggplant if she would just give it a chance, so it seemed a perfect dish to make.

I cooked an eggplant and zucchini in olive oil. For one thing, a quarter cup of olive oil wasn't nearly enough--the eggplant soaked it right up and then it all started to brown too fast. For another, I read this recipe as called for one zucchini and it actually calls for a pound, so my ratatouile




I removed the zucchini and eggplant to a dish and then added in sliced onion.



I removed the onion from the pan and added red pepper and garlic, only then noticing that I wasn't supposed to remove the onion from the pan and had very likely overcooked it.



I then added tomatoes, thyme, and a bay leaf, and cooked the concoction for five more minutes:



Finally, the eggplant and zucchini were added back in and cooked for twenty minutes. Finished!

(Imagine a beautiful picture of ratatouille)

For some reason, I totally forgot to take a picture of the finished product, even though it was beautiful. And I can't take a picture of what my mom has in the fridge, because she added corn to it for some mysterious reason. She said it was delicious but seemed more like a side dish than a main course. I thought it was a perfect main dish option if you had vegans or vegetarians coming over for dinner and didn't want to make the ubiquitous pasta dish. It was surprisingly fast and easy--the chopping was even easy, fast chopping.

For some reason, the placement of the tofu, tempeh, TVP, and seitan dishes really makes me laugh. They are in the back of the "Vegetables" section like an afterthought. I can imagine the Beckers sitting around, trying to fit these ingredients in and having trouble--
"Well, they aren't really grains."
"So are the vegetables?"
"Not really. But I suppose that's as good as anything else."
"So...do we work them into the alphabetical order?"
"Hmmm...no. Just throw them into the back. I figure both people who want to make tofu salad will find the recipe."

Or at least that's how I imagine the conversation going.

Honestly, I think the average person who gets excited about Tofu Salad (p. 317) is probably not an active TJOCer but I could be wrong. My mom brought this recipe on herself. I mentioned how getting Josh to eat moo shu tempeh was going to be nearly impossible and she said she would eat it. So I quickly followed that up with a question about the tofu, seitan, and TVP recipes and she relied that she would try them all. 'DONE!' I thought.

I started the tofu salad before she could change her mind. TJOC says to cut up the tofu and then mix in the ingredients but I didn't want my cubes to break up. I thought it made a lot more sense to mix up the sauce first and then add the tofu.

The sauce had a few "mandatory" ingredients (mayo, Dijon mustard, red onion, celery, carrot, and basil) and a few optional ingredients (capers, chili powder, ground red pepper, white wine vinegar) and I added them all.





Extra firm tofu is really easy to cut into cubes:



And I mixed it together:



The tofu salad was really good! If you hate tofu, you will be likely to hate this salad too, but if you either like tofu, or have no opinion, it's a good one to try. The chili powder and ground red pepper lent a little heat, the capers and mustard gave some tang, and everything else lent some sweetness. It was a very well rounded salad and mom and I both liked it. TJOC mentions that it is good on a sandwich and I'm sure that's true. The recipe was super easy too.

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3 comments:

  1. Ratatouille is traditional French provincal, and it is unfortunate that people can't eat a hearty vegetable dish and appreciate it. It wasn't until recently that meat became a "main dish" for the majority of the western world, and vegetables are so numerous and varying it is a shame that they can't be appreciated due to close-minded attitudes about food.

    On another note, soy products (especially the ones containing Isolated Soy Protein) should really be eaten as sparingly as possible, and that is perhaps why those dishes were included as an afterthought in your book. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, tofu is great to have a few times a month but things like TVP should never be used as a regular part of your diet. It contains very little nutrition and ISP actually acts as a nutrient-INHIBITOR, meaning it prevents your body from absorbing all the great nutrients you are getting from those delicious veggie dishes. Just thought I would pass some sound nutritional advice along. The ratatouille looks great and is delicious--and you keep it as a main dish!!!

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  2. Thankfully, I am not a vegetarian or vegan or this whole project would be a real challenge! In fact, I actually work in the meat industry.

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  3. As a vegetarian, I wouldn't be able to do this project. But I am SOOO glad TJOC has so many vegetarian dishes (or easily alterable recipes)!

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