Ratatouille is a classic French country dish of vegetables cooked in their own juices until tender. Taking the same classic flavors, we layered the vegetables with cheese in a gratin-like dish. Comte is a nutty semi-firm cheese from eastern France. If you can't find comte, Gruyere is a good substitute.
Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (30 minutes active) Serves 8.
AP Photo - - Prosciutto, Apricot and Blue Cheese Panino
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
14.5-ounce can chopped tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted, drained
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 small summer squash, sliced into thin rounds
2 small zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
2 Japanese eggplants, sliced into thin rounds
1 cups comte cheese
Heat the oven to 350 F.
In a large, deep skillet over medium, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic and bell pepper. Saute for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender.
Add the basil, thyme, tomatoes, vinegar, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Spread a third of the tomato mixture over the bottom of a deep 10-inch pie pan or 2-quart casserole dish. Using a third of each vegetable, arrange one layer each of squash, zucchini and eggplant rounds over the tomato mixture, alternating vegetables and overlapping slightly. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese over that. Repeat the layering in that order two more times, ending with cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife. Increase the heat to broil and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes to lightly brown the top.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 188 calories; 95 calories from fat (48 percent of total calories); 11 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 22 mg cholesterol; 17 g carbohydrate; 9 g protein; 7 g fiber; 277 mg sodium.
Quiche Lorraine with an Italian flair
Bacon, Chard and Fontina Quiche
Start to finish: 1 hour. Serves 8.
1 purchased refrigerated pie crust
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 bunch Swiss chard, tough stems removed, chopped
1-1/2 cups half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1-1/2 cups shredded fontina cheese
Heat the oven to 400 F.
Line a deep-dish pie plate or a quiche pan with the pie crust, crimping or trimming the edge. Place the pan on a baking sheet, then set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high, cook the bacon until crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and continue to cook until the chard is tender, about another 7 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to drain any excess liquid.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, salt, pepper and thyme.
Add the cheese to the chard and bacon, then transfer the mixture to the prepared pie crust. Pour the egg mixture into the crust and gently stir to eliminate any large clumps or air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F, then bake until the center is set, about another 40 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy warm or cool. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 368 calories; 243 calories from fat (66 percent of total calories); 27 g fat (13 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 214 mg cholesterol; 17 g carbohydrate; 14 g protein; 1 g fiber; 604 mg sodium.
Taking your grilled cheese sandwich to the next level
A great grilled cheese practically defines comfort, all crispy bread and gooey cheese. And a grilled cheese is the perfect base to add other flavors, whether you fancy a slice of tomato or a little ham or bacon. This version is similar to a grilled ham and cheese for adults. Salty prosciutto pairs with creamy, earthy blue cheese. A touch of sweetness from apricot preserves balances the sandwich. This quick and flavorful lunch would be great served with an arugula salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.
Prosciutto, Apricot and Blue Cheese Panino
Start to finish: 15 minutes. Serves 1.
2 thick slices country-style sourdough bread
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
2 tablespoons Great Hill blue cheese, or other creamy raw milk blue cheese
2 slices prosciutto
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
To assemble the sandwich, spread 1 tablespoon of apricot preserve on each slice of bread. Sprinkle one slice with the blue cheese, then top with the prosciutto. Sprinkle with black pepper and top with the other slice of bread, preserves to the inside. Brush each side of the sandwich with the olive oil.
Using a panini press or a skillet, cook the sandwich 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown. If using a skillet, flip the sandwich after 2 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 566 calories; 197 calories from fat (35 percent of total calories); 22 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 35 mg cholesterol; 71 g carbohydrate; 20 g protein; 2 g fiber; 1,365 mg sodium.