Tag Archives: summer vegetables

An Abundance of Summer Produce: Ratatouille

Remember that bunch of lovely veggies from my CSA share last week? With the zucchini, eggplant, some onions, and some tomatoes, basil and parsley from my garden, I made ratatouille. I realize I’m probably late to the ratatouille party – from what I can recall, it seemed that everyone made this dish back when the movie debuted. I never tried it before (that I can remember, anyway), and I wanted to see what it was like. While I typically lean towards fast and fresh veggie recipes in the summer months, I just knew this was something I wanted to take the time to try.

Boy, was I glad I did. What a burst of flavors! The long simmering time didn’t lessen the freshness factor either – with the fresh basil garnishing the dish, it seemed like every bite was summer. Leftovers reheated beautifully too – I enjoyed some for breakfast (yes, breakfast!) with scrambled eggs the next morning. It was a dish that seemed rich in flavor, but pretty light in calories. I am hoping to see more eggplant and zucchini in my future, so I have an excuse to make this dish a few more times before summer is over. Next time you want a superstar side dish, this is a sure winner. I enjoyed it with some lamb chops, and while I adored the lamb, the ratatouille pretty much stole the show.

Ratatouille, adapted from Gourmet magazine

1 lb tomatoes

4 large garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 c chopped fresh parsley

10 fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for garnish

3-4 T olive oil

1 lb eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces

salt

1 large onion, sliced

1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 lbs zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces

black pepper

If using large red tomatoes, cut an X on the bottom of each tomato, and drop into a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow cool. Peel, and chop. (If using yellow pear tomatoes, cherry, or grape tomatoes, you can skip this step.)

Add tomatoes along with garlic,parsley,  basil, and 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down and start to make a sauce (about 30 minutes).

While sauce is simmering, toss eggplant with about 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a colander and allow to sit in sink for 30 minutes.

Cook onions and peppers in 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10-12 minutes. Season with a bit of salt. Add to the tomato-garlic mixture. Add more oil if you need it to the skillet, and cook eggplant for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the zucchini and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-7 minutes. Season with a bit of salt and add this to the other ingredients in the saucepan. Season with pepper to taste and simmer, stirring occasionally, covered, for an hour, or until vegetables are very tender. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve garnished with a touch of basil.

Serves 4.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Summer Succotash

succotash grayAll summer, I have been striving to enjoy as much of the bounty of fresh, local produce available at farmer’s markets as possible. In fact, every time I visit, I get so excited, I come home with two to three tote bags full of produce. My purchases are usually near the limits of what we can consume in our household in a week. This means I need to invent ways to enjoy a large amount of produce. Succotash is a gorgeous way to enjoy a mix of summer’s best. Traditionally, it is made with lima beans and corn, and sometimes bell peppers and tomatoes. I’m not a fan of lima beans, but I love field peas, such as blackeyed peas, purple hull peas, and cream peas. I thought these would make a great substitute, and would add a wonderfully earthy flavor to the dish.

Also at the farmer’s market – succulent, sweet corn. This stuff was no comparison to that found in a normal grocery. Not one bit. This corn was so sweet, I was sneaking bites of it cut freshly from the cob. Along with some fresh sweet Hungarian wax peppers, plump, ripe tomatoes, and a serrano chile, this succotash was bursting with flavors of summer. Oh…not to mention the bacon. Because bacon makes everything better, right?

This is one of those “must-make” dishes for summer. I will definitely have to make it again before the farmer’s markets run dry, and I encourage you to do the same!

2 c fresh field peas, such as blackeyed peas (if you can’t find fresh, you can substitute frozen)

3 slices bacon, diced

1/2 onion, diced

1 Hungarian wax pepper, diced (can substitute a banana pepper or bell pepper, if you prefer)

1 serrano pepper, minced

3 ears of corn, kernels cut off

3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 T butter

2 T chopped fresh parsley

Bring salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan, and add peas. Lower to a simmer, and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until peas are tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid.

Heat a deep, heavy skillet, such as cast-iron, to medium heat. Add bacon, and saute until starting to crisp, and add onions and peppers. Saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add peas, and saute another minute or two. Add corn, saute 1 minute, and add tomatoes. Saute for another 2 minutes, just until flavors start to come together. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add butter. Stir until butter melts. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

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Filed under Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Side Dishes