I started this blog to write about growing my favorite plants and flowers, but I would be hard pressed to decide whether I enjoy them more for their beauty, or for the sheer joy and gratitude I get from harvesting and cooking with some of these plants. I just couldn’t resist sharing this end of summer favorite recipe with you.
Sadly, I was unable to get my own vegetable garden in this year even after starting all of the seeds for it, but that did not stop me from fully appreciating the wonderful produce offered at various farmer’s markets in my area. The end of summer and beginning of fall is I think my favorite time of year to visit markets. The flavors of the tomatoes seem to deepen and the fresh, crisp apples are starting to fill the stands.
This week I stopped at the Curly Girl Farm Stand and loaded up!
Fortunately we finally got a couple of rainy days here and while working on some garden plans I got to make my favorite late season dish, Ratatouille, with all the goodies I bought. This dish is perfect if you have other chores to do because you basically put everything in the oven and leave it.
My ratatouille comes out different every time I make it. I am a very imperfect cook and I rarely follow one recipe, but rather some combination of many I have read. So, you wont find any exacting instructions or specific measurements in most of my cooking. Typically the dish is made with varying amounts of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onions, garlic, herbs, and anything else that sounds good.
I prefer the easiest possible method of preparing this dish which is to coarsely chop the vegetables and roast them in the oven. I put them on an edged cookie sheet or in a dish with copious amounts of olive oil and some coarse salt and pepper.
I like to roast the onions and tomatoes together because they take about the same amount of time which is maybe around 2 hours at 375 degrees, or until they are getting browned and caramelized and the juices are starting to disappear.
Next I combine all the roasted vegetables in a heavy oven proof pot, add about 2 cups of water, sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of coarse brown cane sugar, drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste and return it to a cooler oven of 325 degrees for about another 45-60.
I like the outcome to be like a chunky, rich, and concentrated preserve. In my dreams it would accompany a freshly caught, lightly breaded filet of Canadian Small Mouth bass fried in browned butter but, it can accompany any roasted or grilled meat.
The way I eat it most often however, is spread very thickly on a chunky, toasted piece of Country or Italian bread with some shaved Parmesan and chopped fresh basil on top and of course a nice glass of Pinot Noir!