Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Salsa, Ratatouille, Beans

I made some salsa on Saturday evening. Well, it was intended as salsa but came out kinda soupy, so I ate it with a spoon, as if it were gazpacho. I didn't drain the liquid out as I went along, but the final effect was still delicious, if rather on the juicy side. I chopped tomato, green pepper, about half a jalapeno (very finely minced, almost pulverized, and without ribs or seeds; I'm sort of a wuss about heat), lime juice, salt, and and ear of corn. I had no cilantro, which would have been a fabulous addition.

The middle picture is ratatouille. I use as the "recipe"/guide for ratatouille an old recipe that my mom used to make, found in a Junior League cookbook called Applehood and Motherpie, for "Mediterranean Pie." When I was a kid, it was the only way I really LOVED eggplant, and it still holds up. Occasionally I've made the filling (which is, essentially, ratatouille) and then baked
it with buttered breadcrumbs on top -- the idea of putting it in a pie shell doesn't really appeal anymore. The richness of pie crust just seems over the top. I sauteed onion and salt in a generous amount of olive oil, and then added peppers and zucchini. This time I just stirred in the roasted eggplant and garlic I'd made the other day, which wasn't really getting eaten, and then some tomatoes.

We ate the ratatouille last night accompanied by cannellini beans which I tossed with some of the pesto still hanging around in the fridge, and bread. As I wrote about last time I made cannellini beans, I decided to go ahead and salt the soaking water. The results were fantastic! I soaked probably half a pound of beans in about 1.5 quarts of water with about a tablespoon of salt, for about 5 or 6 hours. I drained them and added fresh water, a few cloves of garlic, and a bay leaf. I brought them to a hard boil for about 5 or 6 minutes, and then turned them down to a gentle simmer for 40 minutes. They turned out beautifully tender, yet did not fall apart.

The bread is a standby "dinner" bread (as opposed to sandwich bread) which I got from a Washington Post recipe by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I just hunted around but could not find a link to it, unfortunately. It's a reliable one-day bread; certainly not as complex as one made with a starter, but when I don't think of it a day in advance, or when I don't have a well-fed, active wild-yeast starter (which I tend to let go dormant in the summer when it's often too hot to bake a lot), it does okay. I toasted my slices and drizzled them with olive oil before topping with the beans and ratatouille.


Phantom Scribbler said...

Do you think the salted soak water would work with other beans, or just the cannellinis with their tough skins? I'm thinking tomorrow (with the forecast rain) will be a good bean day!

Tall Kate said...

You know, I'm not really sure. I know that my beans *usually* come out okay without the salt water soak, but I have had recurring issues with tough skins on the cannellinis, so that's why I've decided to use that strategy with them. If you've had trouble with tough beans in the past, I'd say, go for it. I've found, though, that you have to monitor them while cooking fairly often because they go from firm to mush pretty quickly when using the salt-water soak.