Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vegetable Ragu

Vegetable Ragu
by The Souper

Entering my second year of blogging at Prep2eat, I am sharing with you one of my favorite recipes for Vegetable Ragu. This dish utilizes summer produce in a healthy, hearty, spicy and comforting meal. Cooking a large amount one time allows a home cook to recreate several meals from the original creation. I like to use the word "creation" because personal choices go into the total recipe. Creativity makes a unique dish.

A traditional Ragu by definition is "an Italian culinary staple that refers to any sauce to which meat is added." This comes from online website of wiseGEEK http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-ragu-sauce.htm 
Also from this same website: "The actual word Ragu is derived from the French word ragout which translates to stew. The French verb ragouter literally means to stimulate appetite."

Enjoy visiting your local Farmers' Markets in season to bring home the fresh produce for your home cooking creations.

Serving suggestions:
Use as a side dish to a protein meal of cooked meat or chicken.
Cut leftover, cooked hamburgers or chicken into leftover Vegetable Ragu and reheat for a quick meal with protein.
Cook pasta or rice and add to cooked Vegetable Ragu to increase amount of a side dish.

Cooking time for Vegetable Ragu after prep: about 30 minutes depending on the amount of ingredients used.

Vegetable Ragu  (one version)

Olive oil or canola oil, three tablespoons
Onion, one small or half medium
Garlic cloves, two or three
Zucchini, small
Summer squash, small
Carrot, one medium
Broccoli, fresh or frozen, two cups
Tomatoes, one 28 ounce can, crushed
Tomato paste, 12 ounce can
Water, two cups or more (as needed)
Kosher salt, two teaspoons (add more as needed for tasting)
Crushed black pepper, one teaspoon (add more as needed for tasting
Sugar, two teaspoons (add more as needed for tasting)
Red pepper flakes, one quarter teaspoon (add more as needed for tasting)

What you will need:
Cutting board, large
Vegetable peeler
Kitchen knife
Small mixing bowls (two)
Large mixing bowls (one)
Can opener
Fry pan, large
Wooden spoon
Table spoon
Pot holder
Serving platter or large serving bowl
Serving spoons, large

The Prep:
Bring all cooking supplies to central prepping area of your kitchen.
Wash and dry all fresh produce.
Peel produce such as carrots.
Take skin off onion and garlic
Wash and dry the top of cans before opening.
Cut fresh produce into cubes of same size.
Put cut onions into one bowl.
Keep cut garlic cloves separate in small bowl.
Put remaining cut produce into a large bowl

Cooking Process:
Add oil into large frying pan and turn stove burner to medium high heat for one minute.
To the heated oil in the frying pan, add cut onions and stir with wooden spoon until color of onions turns shiny, opaque color.
Add salt during the stirring of cooking onions.
Add cut garlic cloves to the cooking onions and continue to stir the mixture for a minute.
Add remaining cut vegetables, crushed black pepper and optional red pepper flakes.
Keep stirring the cooking vegetables and lower stove burner temperature to medium heat.
When cooking vegetables soften, after about three minutes or more if needed, add the can of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and water.
Stir slowly to combine all of the mixture together.
Keep stirring and add more water if sauce is becoming too thick and continue to stir the mixture.
Lower stove burner temperature to low setting and keep stirring the cooking sauce.
With a clean table spoon, carefully taste the cooking sauce and add more salt, sugar and/or crushed black pepper to a flavor that is pleasing to you.
Turn off the stove burner and carefully put the cooked ragu sauce into a large serving bowl.