Lamp puts new twist on French classic

FAST & FRESH

September 08, 1993|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Contributing Writer

This delicious, efficient menu provides a speedy twist on the French classic, ratatouille. The traditional version of this dish from Provence yields a stew-like melding of eggplant, tomatoes, onions, peppers, zucchini, garlic and herbs.

In this rendition, the main ratatouille components (you can also add bell pepper cubes, if desired) are grilled independently. Lamb is added since it beautifully complements the flavors of these vegetables and is especially tasty on the grill. Red-skinned potatoes round out the meal and wilted spinach doused with the basting sauce adds a savory texture contrast.

To ensure that all of the skewered items are done in the same amount of grilling time, the potatoes are microwaved for a few minutes first to soften.

Serve another classic for dessert -- creamy rice pudding. Top with some lightly toasted chopped almonds for crunch.

Items you should have as staples are: tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, 1/2 cup chopped almonds.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list should include: 1 pound lamb cubes, 2 small zucchini squash, 1 medium eggplant, 8 small red bliss potatoes (not more than two inches in diameter) or 4 larger red-skinned potatoes, 1 pound cleaned fresh spinach (if using 10-ounce bags, about 1 1/2 bags), rice pudding with raisins.

Skewered lamb and ratatouille

Serves 4

1 pound lamb cubes

2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 small zucchini squash, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

8 small red bliss potatoes (not larger than 2 inches in diameter), scrubbed and microwaved 6-8 minutes or until slightly soft

BASTING SAUCE

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled)

salt and pepper

1 pound fresh washed and stemmed spinach

Heat grill or broiler. Alternate lamb and vegetables on eight skewers. Mix basting ingredients together and reserve 1 tablespoon for spinach. Brush on skewered lamb and vegetables.

Place skewers on grill (or under broiler) and cook for about 10-15 minutes total, turning to evenly brown each side and brushing occasionally with basting sauce.

Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup water in large skillet or pot to boiling. Add spinach and cover with lid. Toss once during steaming and remove from heat when spinach has just begun to wilt.

Toss with 1 tablespoon reserved basting sauce. Place skewers on plates and serve with mound of wilted spinach.

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