Monday, September 28, 2009
Autumn is starting to show herself here; the leaves are turning topaz and there's a bite in the morning air.
The K and T Family Victory Garden is slowing down, but we still have some beautiful little eggplants, a few stray zucchini and absolutely LOADS of green tomatoes. I'll address the green tomato conundrum in an upcoming post...
There's a lot to love about Ratatouille. It's simple, it's good eaten hot, cold or at room temperature, it's healthy, AND it's a great way to use up tons of stray vegetables left over from a Farmer's Market Moment of Gluttony.
Why do I do it? Why do I go hog-wild and frenzied in the Farmer's Market? I *know* there are only two good vegetable eaters in this household. And yet somehow, I end up with an overflowing basket every time. In this case, I had tomatoes, green and red bell peppers and some not-so-perky celery hanging about, all a bit past their prime.
Another bonus about Ratatouille: it's forgiving. Nobody will know, in the end, that the veggies you sneaked in were just a few days shy of disgrace.
I wasn't sure about throwing the celery into the mix, but then I thought of French food, and how they braise celery all the time, and so I thought--eh? Why not?
I based this recipe on an old Craig Claiborne recipe I found on the Food Network. I added some additional vegetables (eg: celery and red bell peppers) and some herbs, because I thought the original recipe sounded a little bland.
based on Craig Claiborne's recipe
1/2 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups onions, sliced
1 cup celery, chunked
3 cups zucchini, chunked
4 cups eggplant (peeled if skins are thick) chunked
2 cups green, red or mixed bell peppers, seeded and chunked
3 tablespoons flour
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 28-oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons capers or a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
Heat oil in a very large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and the garlic and cook until onions are translucent. Meanwhile, chunk zucchini and eggplant (I didn't peel mine because they were thin-skinned baby guys). Toss zucchini and eggplant in the flour to lightly coat.
Add zucchini, eggplant and peppers to the skillet, stir. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low and slow, and cook 30 minutes.
Add tomatoes (both kinds) and oregano. Cook, covered, 10 minutes. Remove cover, simmer 10 minutes more, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes. Stir in capers or balsamic and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.
*We loved this best slightly warm, almost room temperature, for lunch with a crusty baguette. I showered mine with shards of parmesan and a drizzle of good olive oil. I served it again with grilled sausages, and it only gets better!
**One Monday a month, I'm hoping to post a meatless recipe. It's good on the wallet and it's my payback to Mother Earth for the horrible paper product abuse in my household last week. Atonement, you know.