This dish I created years ago based solely on what I was growing in my garden. I had a particularly busy day with a fussy toddler, and realized all I had to work with was mushrooms in the refrigerator, a head of garlic, and a box of pasta. I went into the garden and started picking. It was a huge hit – even with my two year old, who had no idea eating a vegetarian meal was strange.
Over the years, I’ve adapted the recipe, tried other vegetables, and it is still a family staple. Our favorite way is to not use any meat at all, and have this as a vegetarian entrée. It’s generous enough to feed us for 2 days, with a bit left over for my lunch. It’s even better the second day. For those of you who prefer meat with your meals, adding sausage or other ground meat would end in a tasty dish.
Here’s the basic recipe. You can switch out any ingredient you don’t like, and add any you do. Make this YOUR recipe. You can play with the herbs for a different taste. Like spicy? We add pepper flakes. I usually put it over linguine, but it’s just as good by itself as a hearty stew, or over rice. I use in the sauce a hearty red wine like a Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Barbera or Nebbiolo. Anything robust and Italian goes great in this dish. We then finish what’s left in the bottle with dinner.
1 eggplant, cut into 1 – 2 inch chunks
4 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 pound sliced mushrooms
2 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, chopped in 1inch pieces
5 tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed (less if you don’t like garlic)
4 Italian sausages (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil (the higher quality is best)
1 cup (or more) hearty red wine, water or vegetable broth
1 tsp dried or 1T fresh thyme, basil or oregano (decide which one you like best)
Salt and pepper to taste
Serve with red pepper flakes, and grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
First, you’ll need a large frying pan and Dutch oven or large stew/soup pot.
Pour about 2 T of olive oil in large frying pan and sauté eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers one by one over medium-low heat until semi soft. Pour each into the Dutch oven when done. Sauté mushrooms until soft, adding the garlic for the last 2 minutes. The mushrooms will give some liquid, and that is good. Pour it all into the pot. If you are adding sausage, remove casings and pull into bite sized bits. Sauté until sausage is brown. Add the meat and chopped tomatoes to the pot, add seasonings, and pour in the red wine. Add more wine, water, or broth if needed – there should be enough to cook the vegetables. Stir. I added sausage to this week’s dinner, and if you do too, it should look like this
Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the wine starts to bubble, stirring frequently. Cover and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes or more, until the vegetables are tender, and the tomatoes have turned into a savory sauce. It should then look like this
Serve by itself, over pasta or rice, and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese, if desired. Don’t forget to enjoy the rest of the lovely bottle of wine you used in the sauce with your dinner. Tonight, I used a Soquel Vineyards 2010 Sangiovese, and it was delicious.
Enjoy this easy, healthy meal.