Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Italian Vegetable Stew

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Recently I joined the Kentucky Food Blogger Association, the group talks about everything and anything related to food, from photography to gardening. I have not posted about cooking since I joined the group, and honestly I am a bit intimidated to share my recipe. Being part of the group means I have to bring on my cooking skills, be able to present great recipes, and post pretty pictures. But I am happy that there is such group out there (right where I live!) that breathes food and talks about food like I do, with a hint of Bluegrass, of course.

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Last night I made Italian vegetable stew from Cook's Illustrated magazine. The stew, known as ciambotta in Italian is almost like ratatouille. It has eggplant, colorful sweet bell peppers, zucchini, and tomato. Definitely gives you enough serving of vegetable for the day. Speaking of ratatouille, have you seen that animated film about a rat and a young man living in the culinary world? Great movie for all you foodies.

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The Cook's Illustrated recipe is a bit more complicated, here I tweaked it a bit for convenience.

Don't you love the vibrant colors?

Kitchen tip: Freeze homemade pesto in ice cube trays, when needed just take out a few pesto cube.

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Chow time!

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Italian Vegetable Stew 
(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated May and June 2012 Issue)

12 ounces eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound russett potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 1/4 cups water
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved and chopped coarse
2 zucchini (8 ounces each), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 red or yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup shredded fresh basil
1/4 cup pesto
4 tablespoons olive oil

1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over high heat, add eggplant, onion, and potatoes; cook, stirring frequently, until eggplant browns and surface of potatoes become translucent, about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, stirr to combine, then add 2 cups of water and chopped tomatoes and juice. Scrap up any browned bits and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until eggplant is broken down and potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large skillet and add zucchini, bell peppers, and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned. push vegetables to sides of skillet, add pesto and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir vegetable and pesto together, transfer to bowl and set aside. Add remaining 1/4 cup water to skillet, scrap up browned bits.

3. Stir in reserved vegetable and water from skillet into vegetables in Dutch oven. Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in basil and season with salt to taste.

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