Sunday Night Dinner: Sun-dried Tomatoes

This week I decided to move away from the fresh produce I’ve been buying at the market to try one of the numerous other products sold there: sun-dried tomatoes.  Sun-dried tomatoes are actually pretty easy to make at home—just cut up a few tomatoes, remove the seeds, toss with salt, and bake the heck out of them!  If you prefer to dry them in the sun, though, it could take 4-10 days…

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I love sun-dried tomatoes, but I wanted to do something different than the typical pasta dish, so I found this delicious meatloaf recipe here—VERY flavorful and definitely a new favorite 🙂  The original recipe makes 2 loaf pans that each serve 6, but that’s way too much for me.  Instead, I halved the recipe and formed the meat into 6 mini-loaves.  I baked 2 and froze 4 to take out for dinner another time, so not only is the recipe tasty, it’s also convenient for me!  I also found the ketchup in France to be surprisingly good…

 Ingredients:
1 egg (lightly beaten)
½ medium onion, chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried basil (or 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves)
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, diced
½ cup ketchup plus extra for top
½ cup oatmeal (or seasoned breadcrumbs)
1 pound ground beef

Instructions:

1. Add all of the ingredients except the meat to a large bowl and thoroughly combine with a spoon.

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2. Combine ground beef with the mixture—I used my hands!

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3. Divide the mixture in whichever fashion you prefer—6 mini-loaves, 1 large loaf pan (sprayed lightly with cooking spray), or even meatballs.

Two to bake and four to freeze

Two to bake and four to freeze

4. Spread additional ketchup on top, if desired.

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5. Bake in a 350F (180C) oven—40 minutes for mini-loaves, 1 hour for a large loaf, less for meatballs.

To accompany my mini meatloaf, I made baked fries seasoned with oil, salt, pepper, and paprika (baked in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a 425F oven for about 20-25 minutes) and simple steamed green beans (also from the market) with butter.

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DELICIOUS

I froze my 4 remaining loaves by leaving them on a baking tray in the freezer overnight and then wrapping them in saran wrap and placing them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.

 

French word for today:
tomber en panne (tom-BAY en PAHN)- to crash (in a computer sense)
Le système est encore tombé en panne. Il faut que je redémarre l’ordinateur.
Windows crashed again.  I have to reboot my computer.

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Sunday Night Dinner: Ratatouille

I can’t believe I’ve never made ratatouille before, especially after living with so many vegetarians last year (and this recipe is vegan)!  It’s seriously SO easy and SO delicious.  All you do is chop up a bunch of vegetables, throw them in a pot, and let them do their thing while you blog/do laundry/knit/Facebook.  Also, it’s the perfect meal for this time of year—a nice hot bowl of ratatouille, a crusty baguette, a warm blanket, and a book.  Sounds perfect 🙂

There’s also something comforting about this meal for me, which is weird because I’ve never had ratatouille before.  I have to say though that recently I’ve started to feel things kind of “click” here. Maybe I’ve just been in a good mood lately, but I’m finally feeling like I’m starting to establish myself the teensiest bit in Nice (but I don’t want to jinx it!).  I can get around without using a map, I’ve got friends to go out with, and I’m starting to think about the things I want to do when my parents come in December and Emily comes in March.  And the feeling all started this week with ratatouille, so I can tell this is going to become a comfort meal for me.

There’s not one “secret” ingredient this week, since I got all my vegetables at the market!

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Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 small eggplant
2 zucchinis
2 tomatoes
1 large green bell pepper
2-3 tsp herbes de provence (OR 2-3 tsp Italian seasoning OR 1 tsp dried basil + 1/2 tsp dried oregano + 1/2 tsp dried thyme + 1/2 tsp dried rosemary)
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Quarter and thinly slice the onion; mince the garlic; cube the eggplant and zucchini– try to make the sizes of the cubes as uniform as possible; remove the seeds from the tomatoes and roughly chop; roughly chop the bell pepper.

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2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven.

3. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft, about 6-7 minutes.
4. Add the eggplant and stir to coat with olive oil.
5. Add the zucchini and peppers, stir.

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6. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep vegetables from sticking.

7. Add the tomatoes, herbs, salt, and pepper.

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8. Cover and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes.  The eggplant should be tender but not too soft.
9. Serve hot.

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This recipe made 2 servings (but I went back for seconds both times!)  Also, make sure you have a nice crusty baguette for afterwards to soak up all the juices.  Bon Appetit!

French word of the day:
comprimé (KO-pree-may)- pill, tablet
Il prend un comprimé contre le mal de tête.
He takes a pill for his headache.