This is one of my favorite times in the seasons to shop at the markets. It's an in-between time, and just like there's still some heat in the air, some of our favorite summer fruits and veggies linger. But as the mornings get cooler only if by a degree each day, so do some of our favorite fall treats start to trickle in during the coming weeks. It's also a great time to spend at the markets as school is back in session, jobs are back to normal and regular schedules resume. That also means that the lazy days of Summer are becoming the hurried days of Fall, and so the ability to cook and spend time in the kitchen falls by the wayside. Our goal for this blog is make cooking easier and turn it into a go-to instead of a "well, if I time."
Our recipe today is nothing new, but it's definitely a good one to have in your repertoire. Ratatouille, originating in Nice, France was the food of farmers. Coming from the word "touiller," meaning to toss, ratatouille is quite literally the tossing of late summer vegetables in a warm and hearty dish. I added this recipe today as it is a wonderful dish if you have little bits and pieces in your fridge to get rid of. Toss in a half of an aubergine here or a quarter of a pepper here. For me, I had way too many tomatoes from my garden and 1 too many eggplant on my hands. I added onion, garlic, bell pepper, squash, a little bit of random cauliflower I had in my fridge, and basil from my garden, and POOF(!), I have lunch for 3 days and a solid base for making a pasta or rice dish. Ratatouille is traditionally a vegetarian dish, but who says you can't add a little Spotted Trotter sausage? Also pair with some H&F Bread Co crusty bread or make it real southern with some Riverview Farm grits. I ate this dish as a leftover a few days after preparing it and folded in some Decimal Place Farms goat cheese... it was divine.
I adapted my recipe from Moosewood Restaurant's New Classics cookbook, who along with Deborah Madison and Alice Water's are my authorities on vegetarian cooking. Their recipe was pretty zesty adding lots of Indian spices like Cardamom and Cumin, whereas my recipe sticks to some more traditional herbs and spices like basil and chili flakes.
servings: 6 total time: 45 minutes
- 2 cups onions, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 TBS olive oil
- 1 shishito pepper, diced
- 3 eggplant, first sliced into rounds and then diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 cauliflower, cut into medium florets
- 2-3 ripe tomatoes, diced (or add grape tomatoes)
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 squash or zucchini, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup veggie stock
- 1 tsp each Rosemary, thyme, parsley all finely chopped
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1/4 cup fresh basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- *optional kalamata olives + capers to taste*
1. Take eggplant rounds and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. You will see moisture rise to the surface. Blot dry after about 10 minutes. This will allow the eggplant to not get so soggy when cooking.
2. Heat 1 TBS olive oil in large skillet or stew pot over medium heat. add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add shishito peppers, cauliflower, and eggplant and cook until soft and starting to brown. Remove all from pan.
3. Heat the other TBS of olive oil. Add squash/zucchini and bell peppers. Cook until tender and starting to brown. Add tomatoes and cook for 1 more minute. Add 1/2 veggie stock and return eggplant/cauliflower mixture in with squash and tomatoes. Season with herbs and spices and cook until liquid begins to evaporate about 3-4 minutes. I like my ratatouille a little juicy so I don't cook all of the liquid out, but if veggie juices aren't your thing, you can just let it go a little longer.
4. Fold in olives and capers and garnish with fresh basil.