Not sure why I got a bee in my bonnet about having this right now, except that it seems to me a nice cold weather comfort food. And of course, it’s delicious! The only problem with this concept is that tomatoes are as out of season as they get, and we haven’t gotten a good one since November. But I made the recipe anyway. The recipe is from California Fresh, an outstanding cookbook from 1985, by the Junior League of Oakland and the East Bay. This was our first serious gourmet cookbook, and we still use and love it. And it’s very beautiful.
So, the veggies. It says “serves 6 to 8” but that’s as a side to something else. I use it as… well… dinner, so it serves four. This time I altered the recipe slightly, and I think I’ll go with this version.
Note that the baking time is almost 2 hours. Start early!
Cook some rice. You need 1 cup cooked rice for this recipe. D thinks using more would be good, and I can’t argue with that. I cooked short grain brown rice, and I think brown is really right for this recipe. Great chewyness 🙂
Slice 4 ripe tomatoes. D chose the ones on stems, which were pretty and moist but didn’t really taste like tomatoes. However, moistness may be as important. I used the top and bottom (skinn-y) slices on the bottom of the casserole.
Cut the following in 3/4″ (recipe: 1″) dice: 1 large potato (8 oz), zucchino (I used half a moderate one; recipe says “small”), 1 small eggplant, 1 green bell pepper, one small onion. Slice one medium carrot. Shell peas resulting in 1/2 cup. I think we have used frozen previously, but D found actual English peas this time, and did the shelling. There was more like 2/3 cup when he was done, but what of that? Chop parsley to 2 Tbsp (more, what the heck?). Mix the above in a large bowl, adding 1 1/2 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper.
Butter a 9″ x 13″ Pyrex dish. Place half the tomato slices on the bottom, then half the veggie mix, all the rice, the rest of the veggies, the rest of the tomatoes. Carefully (to spread it well) drizzle 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar over the top.
Bake 350F 1 hour and 45 minutes, lightly covered with aluminum foil. Grate cheese over the top. I used about 7 oz cheddar cheese, though the recipe, which thinks it’s a side but I think it’s a dinner, suggests 4 oz. Return to the oven till the cheese melts. This is only 5 mins or less.
D thought we didn’t need bread, but this turns out to be rather juicy, in the end. I defrosted the end and a couple of slices from the end of the frozen Acme Italian Batard, and we eagerly used them up.
Earlier in the day we went to the post office, The Wine Mine for their eastern-Spain tasting, Market Hall on Fourth Street for a mini-pepperoni and buffalo, mozz (future dinners) and then (after parking at home) we walked to Walgreen’s. The immediately relevant part of that is that we got a wine at WM that both of us wanted to try with this dinner (despite the vinegar, which might be challenging for any wine). This was Anima Negra, from north-central Majorca. It was the most expensive of the lot today, at $22, but also the one that most intrigued both D and me. Made from a bevy of indigenous grapes, says our WM host. We got a few bottles to check out with our food. this didn’t turn out to be a great dinner for it, but we have more to try out. Good, just not synergistic.
We had a small amount of potatoes left from… something. Oh alongside the sausage. And piperade to use up. So I suggested we have potatoes with scrambled eggs, and piperade on the side, and a slice of defrosted bread for lunch. It was really good! Cooked the potatoes hot in butter, salting them, and then added a mix of two eggs, a bit of milk, salt, and pepper, to the very hot pan (so it cooks quickly) and turn over the cooked pieces rapidly so the moist bits get a chance. Great, easy lunch (given that the piperade was made and the potatoes were cooked!)