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I try to eat as many meatless meals as I can. It’s hard; I love meat.  My husband Dave is perhaps even more of a carnivore, but snarfed this down as fast as he could the other night out on the deck. In Colorado, our al fresco dinners are numbered.  Within a couple of weeks, lunches outdoors will work wonderfully, but dinners will simply be too cold.  In the meantime, we’re loving every meal we can get at the patio table with something fun on Pandora going and the dogs running around enjoying the breeze.

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IMG_2729This meal is will make you healthy, wealthy, and wise. Did I say very happy, too? It’s fast, luscious, full of happy-mouth flavors, and is like a whole Mediterranean diet on one plate. Easily vegan or Gluten-Free, it’s also filling without making you feel stuffed.  Try this:

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 Quick Provençal Summer Vegetables on Rosemary Couscous

4 servings

The vegetables are changeable; if you have red bell peppers, add them.  Mushrooms? Sure. This is my favorite combination and is like a tiny and easy stovetop pan of ratatouille plus fresh greens.  No huge vegetable prep and no hot oven heating the kitchen like the big pan of ratatouille would.  Keeps several days well-covered in the refrigerator and is lovely on its own, with scrambled eggs, on a sandwich, with pasta, or as a side with some grilled fish, poultry, or meat.  Just good to have on hand.  In about 20 minutes, dinner is served.

This dish is vegan without the cheese or anchovy garnishes and Gluten-Free if you make rice instead of couscous.

  • Olive oil–any
  • 2 medium onions, chopped coarsely
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and sliced (save fennel fronds for garnish if you like)
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled, trimmed, and chopped into 1-inch cubes (If you use 2 small, young eggplants you may not have to peel them.)
  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 medium yellow or summer squash, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or more to taste
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes–fresh or canned (save juice for another use if using canned tomatoes)s
  • 1-2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence – to taste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup kale or other greens, sliced very thinly (stems, too)
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, crushed red pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, optional

Garnishes:  Chopped fennel fronds, fresh basil, olives, anchovies, toasted pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese–your choice– none, any, or all.

In a large, deep sauté pan (I used 5.5 quart) with lid, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat for a minute or two and add onions and sliced fennel. Let cook down 2-3 minutes, stirring, and add eggplant, squashes, and garlic.  Lower heat a bit and let cook another 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are softening; add tomatoes, Herbes de Provence, and wine. Add more olive oil if necessary.  Let simmer another few minutes or until wine has cooked down; add kale. Season well with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper.  Cover and cook until all vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold over rosemary couscous* or rosemary rice for Gluten-Free option. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, if desired, and with your choice of garnishes.

*Rosemary Couscous:  I take the easy route and make a box of Near East Couscous–Olive Oil and Garlic variety albeit with a couple of additions. Here’s how:

To a 2-quart sauce pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium flame.  Sauté 2 tablespoons medium dice onions and 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary until onions are tender.  Add 1 1/4 cups water, a tablespoon or so of the seasoning packet, and bring to boil; add couscous, cover, and let sit 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork before serving.

*Rosemary Rice for Gluten-Free Option:  Follow directions for making 3 cups of rice, but add 1 teaspoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons  finely minced onions, and 1 teaspoon finely minced rosemary with the water before bringing to a boil and adding rice. You’ll have about 3/4 cup rice for each serving. 

Wine:  If it’s cool enough, red Côtes du Rhône.

Dessert:  Sliced melon and berries

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Sing a new song for meatless Mondays,

Alyce