Cookbooking

I brought a couple of cookbooks with us on this move. I have quite a few, but rarely dip into them. I get into cooking ruts, where I make pretty much the same dishes over and over. I believe that mostly happens out of laziness. Sometimes it’s just easier to cook the tried and true dishes that I know we like.

I decided this move was a good time to open up a few of the cookbooks and sample some new recipes.

This week I decided on the Ratatouille Bake from The Complete CookingLight Cookbook. It was a yummy choice. I tend to be drawn towards anything with feta cheese in it which is probably why I picked this recipe. Just about anything tastes good with feta cheese and ratatouille is no exception. CookingLight’s version of ratatouille is a little different than I’m used to, using oregano, basil, paprika, and crushed red pepper rather than the usual herbes de Provence. Nonetheless, it was still quite tasty and flavorful. I liked the addition of some heat with the crushed red pepper. I also used a hot Hungarian paprika (it was all I had in the cupboard) which added an extra kick.

I’m currently a subscriber to CookingLight magazine. They manage to come up with some great recipes using less fat, sodium, etc. without compromising taste. The key seems to be using the real thing (such as butter) without going overboard. You have flavor without all the fat and calories. The trouble with subscribing, though, is that I don’t get around to trying all of the recipes I’d like to try before the next issue comes out. I’ve found the best way (for me) around that is to subscribe for a year, then take a year off while I go through each issue again. The recipes are seasonal, corresponding to the month in which the issue comes out. However, I do hate that I’m missing out on a whole year of new recipes on the off years.

Here is the recipe in case you’d like to give it a try. (I don’t know if I’ll run into copyright issues by posting this or not. I suppose if CookingLight doesn’t want me to post it, they’ll let me know and I’ll remove it. On the other hand, maybe they’ll appreciate the publicity.)

Ratatouille Bake

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cups diced peeled eggplant
  • 2 cups sliced zucchini
  • 1½ cups diced onion
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup sliced celery
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1½ cups uncooked long-grain rice
  • 1 (14½ ounce) can no-salt added whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
  • 1 (14½ ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups (6 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and next 8 ingredients; saute 1 minute.

Add rice; saute 3 minutes. Stir in tomato and broth; bring to a boil. Add cheese and chickpeas; stir well. Spoon rice mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until rice is tender.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1½ cups)