there are two veggie dishes that just scream summer to me. they are also two dishes that are super fun to say. ratatouille! succotash!
today, we're talking ratatouille.
everyone in america now knows what ratatouille is thanks to this adorable mouse.
both ratatouille and succotash make excellent use of the veggies that are at their prime in summer. for ratatouille, this means tomatoes. eggplants. squash. sweet peppers. basil and other herbs.
you can't really see it, but there's a super pretty purple and white striped eggplant in that pile. remember when that pile was bigger?
there's that eggplant! and a very uncharacteristically curious cat.
some people (ahem julia child) have lots of rules about ratatouille. sauteing the various vegetable separately to maintain their vegetal integrity. that just sounds like a lot of cleaning for this servantless chef. and while thomas keller's perfectly composed little dish of ratatouille for said movie looked delectable, i just can't be bothered on a weeknight. i like my ratatouille peasant style, stewy and infused with the taste of summer.
so, here goes some freestyle ratatouille. i'm not even going to give you a real recipe. first. chop your veggies. you know what you like. i like more tomato than sweet pepper. i like lots of garlic and a nice big onion. i like a 1:1ish ratio of eggplant and zucchini.
heat some oil. sweat out your onions. add your garlic. add your tomatoes. let it hang out and get a little mushy. then add your eggplant and zucchini. hit it with some salt and pepper, and some chopped herbs – i like basil and thyme. cover and let it melt together. melt it at much as you like. want your veggies to have a bit of bite? add them in stages. or be all julia child and sear them in a separate pan and then add to your tomato. i won't judge. too much.
this is what last night's ratatouille looked like:
don't judge these knife skills. it's all going to come together. what will bring it together? red wine vinegar.
there are a couple of things that i've learned that have made me a better cook. 1) salt your food. think you've added enough? add another pinch. do it. 2) acid. acid does amazing things for food. a squeeze of lemon, a squirt of vinegar, will brighten up most dishes. professional chefs know how to use acid. home cooks usually don't. red wine vinegar will bring your ratatouille together.
but, a little goat cheese wouldn't hurt. some more basil. maybe some french bread? red wine?
and what's better than a plate of ratatouille? ratatouille on pizza.
whole wheat crust, mozzarella, more of that goat cheese, maybe some chicken sausage. layer on some more summer veggies.
(please note that the farmer's market was not harmed in the addition of vegetables to this pizza, they were kindly donated by friends who then helped consume the results. unlike my sad underacheivers, their deck garden is going gangbusters. something about watering and fertilizing? sigh.)
bake it up.
mmm. need to feel more virtuous? add some kale salad. dinner's on!
Saute onions and garlic. Add chopped tomatoes. Add chopped eggplant, zucchini, bell pepers, basil and thyme. Simmer until it reaches the desired consistency. Add a few splashes of red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Maybe some red pepper flakes if you're feeling spicy.
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar (or honey!)
- 1 tsp yeast.
- 1 cup cold water
Mix flours, salt, sugar, and yeast. Add cold water and stir/knead until it forms a ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl. Oil a clean bowl. Let the dough hang out in the oiled bowl, tightly covered. At least 2-4 hours, but all day is good too if you're like me and can't wait to eat until 10 pm on a work night and thus must make dough in the morning as a part of a losing battle to being on time for work. When you get home, knead it a couple of times with more flour, then let it rest under a clean dish towel. This recipe makes a LOT of dough. But whatever you don't use will keep in the fridge for a day or two.
This one is just chopped kale with a TON of feta and a simple dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. It was inspired by the marginally fancier Dinner: A Love Story recipe here.