Summer Vegetable Ratatouille

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OMG you guys. How are roasted veggies, balsamic vinegar, cannes tomatoes and herbes de provence THIS DELICIOUS? You know I'm a huge fan of simple, whole food, minimal ingredient meals, but MAN is this one of the best. I loosely followed this recipe from Whole Foods, my own substitutions/improvisations are in bold below:

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons herbes de Provence 
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile pepper flakes
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
  • 2 small zucchini or summer squash, cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon of the salt, and set aside in a paper-towel-lined bowl while preparing the other vegetables.

Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, oil, garlic, herbes de Provence, chile flakes and pepper in a small bowl. Put the bell peppers, onions and zucchini into a large bowl and pour the oil mixture over them. Pat eggplant dry with another paper towel and toss with vegetables, coating everything thoroughly. Spread vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice, until golden and very soft, 30 to 35 minutes.

Put tomatoes into a large bowl and break them up using your hands or a spoon. Add roasted vegetables and vinegar and stir well. I added fresh basil at this point because our basil plant is going nuts and needed to be trimmed. And also because fresh basil is the ish and makes everything more awesome. 

They say: Cool to room temperature before serving, or cover and refrigerate overnight. We did no such thing, and instead at it hot with some chicken sausages. 

Bonus: It tastes even better the next day, hot or cold. We tried both!

Double Bonus: This dish is rich in flavor, and very filling. It is packed with a variety of nutrients, and you can pair it with your favorite protein for a satisfying, low-carb meal. 

Gluten Free Vegan No-Bake Brownie Bites

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Let it be known: I am not a vegan. 

I am not even a vegetarian. And as perviously established, I don't bake. But I am a self-professed glutard, and as such birthday parties tend to be lacking in dessert options for me. My best gal friend turned 30 this week, and threw a birthday picnic potluck by beautiful Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA. The man and I are still getting settled in to our new apartment in Oakland, and our kitchen is in a questionably useful state of unpacking and organization. But I wanted to bring something homemade because 1) a friend of 18+ years deserves only the best, and 2) selfishly, I wanted to a bring a dessert that I would be able to enjoy. These brownie/fudge bites fit all my criteria: real food, no refined sugar, naturally gluten free, no baking required.  Best of all they only require one piece of kitchen equipment: a food processor. Which I happen to have. And which I happened to have unpacked. 

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I loosely followed this recipe, extra points for the Eminem reference in the title! I totally didn't follow the measurements, because who has time for that?

Here's what I did:

2/3 bag of Trader Joe's (TJ) raw walnuts 

1.5 bag TJ's dried unsweetened cherries (not in the recipe, inspired by my friend Kat)

1 package Mejool Dates from TJ (minus 5 that had been eaten at an earlier date haha) 

2 Capfuls Vanillia Extract

3 (?) Heaping table spoons Cocoa Powder (who'd counting? Just keep tasting to see if it's chocolatey enough)

1/2 Tsp sea salt (optional) 

PULSE in your food processor until it resembles dry brownie batter. 

Before and after

Before and after

Now, at this point you are supposed to roll them into balls. Mine weren't sticking together because I didn't get the nut to date ratio right, but I was out of dates. So I put a big scoop of raw honey and a small dollop of coconut oil in a mug and microwaved it. That looked a little runny, so I added a heaping spoonful of cocoa powder and mixed it together. Note to self: this smelled AMAZING and would make a great frosting-like glaze for other items. 

I put the brownie "batter" back in the food processor and added the mug's contents. The added sticky helped them adhere into balls, but they were a little sticky to the touch, so I rolled them in coconut flakes! Yum on yum. 

Fudge bites pre-coconut flakes. So chocolatey. Nom. 

Fudge bites pre-coconut flakes. So chocolatey. Nom. 

The end result was delicious. Rich, fudge-like, and satisfying. They were a hit at the picnic, and I will definitely make them again. Next time I may try making a Mexican hot chocolate version with cinnamon and cayenne. 

Leave me a comment and let me know what variations you come up with!