Desperation can be a source of inspiration in cooking. When an unexpected guest was also a vegetarian I threw together something I had on hand and suddenly we had a tasty alternative to Turkey Tacos I typically make.
Not planning on having tacos tonight? This works equally as well as a side dish.
Black Bean Summer Squash Taco Filling
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, cut into 1/4″ dice
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1/4″ dice
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 yellow summer squashes, cut into 1/4″ dice (see notes)
- 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano, crushed
- black pepper to taste, extra salt for cooking
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12″ non-stick skillet over medium for about 1 minute. Add the onions and bell pepper, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat in the oil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirrings once or twice.
- Add the jalapeno and garlic, stirring them into the carrot and bell pepper. Cook until fragrant, which should only take 30 second to a minute. Transfer the onions, peppers and garlic to a bowl and set aside.
- Return the skillet to the stove, add the remaining oil and increase the heat to high. When the oil is just beginning to smoke add the summer squash and a generous sprinkle of salt. Spread the squash along the bottom of the skillet and cook, undisturbed for 2 minutes. Toss the pan to redistribute the squash and cook another minute.
- Return the onion mixture to the pan and add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.
Your 3 summer squashes should be 6-8″ long and no more than 2-2.5″ in diameter. I prep them removing the ends and cutting them lengthwise into quarters. I then remove the layer of seeds, cut the remaining squash flesh into 1/4″ wide strips and, finally, cutting them into 1/4″ cubes.
One of my co-workers “donates” his excess produce to me. This week it was a couple of mid-size eggplants. My mind went to ratatouille. The farm next to the office yield everything else I needed.
Ratatouille with Roasted Eggplant and Summer Squashes
Prep time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Total time: 4 hours – only about 45 minutes is active time
- 2 mid-size eggplants (about 1 3/4 lbs. total), cut into 1″ pieces
- 2 tsp. table salt
- 3 zucchini, approx. 1″ in diameter (about 1 1/2 lbs.), cut into 1″ pieces
- 3 summer squash, approx. 1″ in diameter (about 1 1/2 lbs.), cut into 1″ pieces
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, 1/2″ dice
- 2 bell peppers, seeded, 1/2″ pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbsp.)
- 1/4 tsp. red chile flakes
- 2 lbs. cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- kosher salt and ground black pepper
- Toss the eggplant pieces with the table salt and place in a large colander set in a bowl or pot. Cover with a paper towel and rest for 3 hours. Thoroughly rinse the eggplant to remove excess salt and transfer to a salad spinner. Spin 2 or 3 times until eggplant is dry.
- Adjust the racks in the oven so that one is in the upper third and the other is in the middle. Preheat the oven to 500°F (or 475°F if you have a convection oven). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl combine the dried eggplant, zucchini and summer squash with about 1/4 cup of oil and a generous pinch of kosher salt. Split evenly between the 2 baking sheets and spread into a single layer. Season with black pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating pans and stirring vegetables after 10 minutes. Remove from oven to cooling racks and hold.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium low heat. Add the onions and peppers, sprinkle with kosher salt, stir to coat with oil. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic and chile flakes. Stir to incorporate and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the whole cherry tomatoes, stir to combine. Cook for about 5 minutes, again stirring occasionally. Some of the tomatoes will burst and others will remain whole. It’s ok.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Add the roasted vegetables and herbs and carefully stir to combine. Taste, adjust salt and pepper as desired.
This came out pretty well if I do say so myself. The veggies stayed fairly cohesive while the onions and peppers basically melted into the background. That said there’s room for improvement. I think I would only roast the veggies for 20 minutes in the future to leave a bit more bite to the veggies.
This recipe is based on past experience with technique learned from Cook’s Illustrated. Additional inspiration was found in Alice Waters’ Ratatouille.
A co-worker gives me some of the bounty from his garden and earlier this week he gave me a green and yellow summer squash. It seemed more zucchini than yellow squash to me. It was also the perfect candidate for a curry application.
Curried Zucchini, White Rice with Aji Dulce and Pan-fried Chicken
In this instance the curry refers to the use of sweet curry powder rather than a curried stew. Though it probably would have been good in a stew with a few other veggies.
I served the curried zucchini over white rice cooked with aji dulce, a dried pepper a co-worker brought Ted from South America. I opted to have some pan-fried breaded chicken breast with this as well.
Recipe under the cut
My goodness it was hot this past weekend. Ted even skipped the bread baking so we could avoid adding the heat from the oven to the house. With the vent hood added during the kitchen renovation last year we can suck the steam from the cook top out of the house so we boiled and sauteed our way through dinner.
July 19th Menu
Potato and Cheddar Perogies
Zucchini and Summer Squash with Tomatoes and Thyme
Blueberry & Sabayon Triffle (thank you Mr. Ted)
notes under here