I faced a dilemma when I decided to blog about recipes, food stories, and my love of cooking. The problem involved the ways in which our today’s meals differ and contrast with those of times past. Don’t get me wrong, we still enjoy many of the same tried and true foods, but change has come, and it is good change. As a nurse, I was always interested in choosing nutritious meals, but I am even more passionate about healthy food now. In the early years of marriage and family, I steadily improved my basic cooking skills, and enjoyed collecting cookbooks. Today, I can access www.epicurious.com or any one of many recipe collections with a few clicks of computer keys. Cooking an Italian birthday dinner or a full Indonesian rijstaffel makes me happy! So I decided to do some of both. Knowing ahead of time that I will alternate past and present favorites may help.
Providing the aha moment for tastebuds is so much fun. Cooking may be work, for me – it is always messy, and I know the piper will have to be paid at kitchen cleanup time. But putting good food together and offering it to my family and friends is not only an art, but pure pleasure. Tonight I am making a variation of a classic French dish which is delicious but which also seems a bit hot and heavy for these triple digit summer evenings. So I am grilling the vegetables and tossing them together in a salad. It is too tempting not to include a clip from one of our favorite movies by the same name. Recipe for the salad follows. There are many similar ones on internet cooking sites and in cookbooks.
- 1 small to medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
- 3 small tomatoes quartered
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise
- 1 red bell pepper cut lengthwised into strips
- 1 small red onion, sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons fresh basil, slivered (or chiffonade, if you want to stick with the French feeling)
Sprinkle the egglplant with sea salt and leave for 15 to 20 minutes; drain and squeeze out the excess moisture.
Heat grill or grill pan. Brush vegetables with olive oil, turning to coat, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill the vegetables, turning, until tender and marked, removing the tomatoes first, pepper and eggplant last. Divide vegetables among 2 – 4 plates Sprinkle with the basil and balsamic vinegar.
Optional toppings: Feta cheese, pine nuts. If desired, instead of grilling, place vegetables in a zip loc bag, toss with seasonings and oil and roast at 425 for at least 20 minutes before adding toppings.