I think I am on a pickling and preserving roll.
First up were the padron peppers, then we made basil walnut pesto and oven roasted tomatoes (which in a turkey provolone are heaven!) and now pickled bell peppers. Cool and crunchy, these colorful peppers are soaked in a vinegar bath for 2 – 3 days. Surprisingly tangy, they don’t turn into a mush.
I made one batch with 2 bell peppers and it got over quickly. I didn’t want the vinegar brine to go to waste. I had couple more bell peppers on hand so I sliced and added them to the jar. I guess the novelty of the peppers wore off and this jar is going slowly. Mom and I loved it over our chickpeas salad sandwiches. As well as over spinach salad.
Oh well, its something you should try while the bell peppers are still cheap! Or try with colorful cauliflowers or carrots!
Fridge Pickled Bell Peppers Recipe
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 – 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
- 7-8 black peppercorns
- 2- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 red or orange bell peppers, sliced thin (washed, de-seeded and white membranes removed!)
- Add all the spices, vinegar and water in a clean glass jar. Add salt. Taste and adjust for tanginess and salt.
Add the bell peppers to the vinegar bath. Close the jar tightly and place it in the back corner of the fridge. Leave it untouched for 3 days before opening.
Excellent over salads, sandwiches and even scrambled eggs.
Refrigerate after opening.
Sweet potatoes. Its one vegetable that has featured in our house only during fasts and in “introduction to solids” phase. Mom used to grate sweet potatoes and pan fry it with peanuts and cumin and salt. Along with Sabudana Khichadi it is on approved food during fasts and eagerly relished by me and my brother. When Varun started solids, sweet potato puree was one thing he used to love. I don’t think sweet potatoes are common as first baby foods in India but they are staple here in US.
Now Vihaan is in that stage of life. Solids, trying to pick up chunks and shove it in his mouth. He drools and coo’s. And along with spinach, pumpkin and apples, we have sweet-potatoes in his menu. I bought a bunch of sweet potatoes at the farmers market and decided to make them into chips – inspired the many Pinterest pins and the Whole Foods Vegetable Chips.
Baked with olive oil and salt, they have no added ingredients. Other than slicing the sweet-potato it is fairly hands-off. It is crunchy, colorful and healthy. A bunch of them in a paper cone was an interesting afternoon snack. Well, whats not to like about crunchy, colorful snack!
I have read the same method works with beets as well. Thats what I am going to try next!
Sweet Potato Chips Recipe
- 1- 2 sweet potatoes, washed and sliced 1/4 ” thin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika or cumin (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl toss the sweet potato slices with olive oil, spices and salt. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- On a pre-lined baking sheet, layer the slices in a single layer
- Bake for 20 – 30 minutes till the chips crisp and curl up on edges.
Let cool and store in an airtight container.
Summertime, fresh Californian produce, farmers market and fresh air. What do they all have in common?
Nothing much, per se, but they all provide a lot of inspiration of fresh and healthy meals.
Last week while we were at the Fort Mason Farmers Market, the vegetable stall was a riot of color. I saw orange-yellow squash blossoms stacked next to green and yellow zucchinis and red tomatoes. The colors were inviting and I picked up a bunch of flowers. Vipul eyed me and the flowers suspiciously. I told him I am going to make some zucchini blossom fritters. He asked me if that was all for dinner or there was “real” food as well along with it.
Tucked in the corner of the top kitchen shelf was an old blue hardcover. The spine binding was falling off, the cover was faded. I had seen it when we moved in January and shoved it further as I crammed some plastic water bottles in front of it. All in the name of unpacking and getting settled.
Last week, I was looking for some serving bowls when I peered into this top shelf. The plastic containers and bottles came crashing down upon me revealing the The New York Times Cookbook (1992).
Curious, I took down the book and thumbed through its yellowing pages. It was obviously well used with some watermarks, check-marks, scribbles and other recipe cut outs taped to its inner cover. Flipping through the pages, the north African Lemon dressing caught my eye.
Before Mom and Dad left for India, I wanted to make something special for them. They are unlikely to visit for another year or so; this was my way to end our time together on a high note. With summer produce on a high in markets, ratatouille it was.
I had pinned this beautifully presented ratatouille dish for some time now and it was time to give it a try. The flavors are traditional and the presentation contemporary. It’s not the mush like stew that it originally was intended.
The veggies are sliced thin, pan-fried to take out excess moisture and then baked over a ripe fresh tomatoes sauce.
If anything is a summer on a plate then this is it. Colorful, vegetarian and seasonal to boot.
I made mini ratatouilles as individual servings and then paired it with big pearly Israeli couscous for a filling meal. It’s a great alternative to good old salad and a great way to eat that 2 cups of veggies per meal.
My kid didn’t touch it but we all loved it. Give it a try this summer while veggies are at their peak!
For the Sliced Veggies
- 2 Zucchini thinly sliced
- 1 yellow squash thinly sliced
- 1/2 eggplant thinly sliced
- 2 roma tomatoes thinly sliced
For the Sauce
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided + 1 teaspoon to grease the baking dish
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup white onion finely diced
- 2 roma tomatoes finely diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper finely diced
- Handful of parsley, finely chopped + more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Crumbled goat cheese to garnish
- Heat a table-spoon of olive oil in a skillet. Sear the zucchini, squash and eggplant on each side lightly till light golden brown. Set aside.
- In the same pan add another table-spoon of oil. Saute the garlic and onion in the oil for 2 – 3 minutes till onions are translucent over medium heat.
Then add red bell pepper. Saute for another 2 – 3 minutes till softened. Add tomatoes, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for another 4- 5 minutes till cooked into a thick sauce.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.
Grease a baking dish with olive oil. Spoon sauce at the bottom. Layer the vegetables on the sauce in rows or a spiral alternating zucchini, squash and eggplant. Bake in top third of the oven for 10 minutes till the vegetables are seared a bit on the top.
Garnish with goat cheese and parsley. Serve warm with couscous, quinoa or pasta.