Friday, September 18, 2009

Tell me this is not how you spend Friday night

Yes. Yes it is. In my defense, while I'm sitting here eating this delicious garden ratatouille in front of the computer, a cake is baking (just a mix this time, but I have homemade pear and pumpkin pulp just waiting for some ideas).

I call it ratatouille, but it's another "what's ready to harvest" meal. Late in the season now, nothing (not even the tomatoes this year) are producing more than a meal's worth each day, so it becomes a creative exercise to see what you can come up with. Tired of stir fry, no pita to go with baba ganoush, the fish I bought is still frozen...

So, stone soup. I have a smallish eggplant, 5 cherry tomatoes and one fist-sized brandywine, a couple of cups of broccoli florets, some carrots, some onions, garlic, chard,and a reddish pepper. In the cabinet, half a bag of fettucini. Sounds like ratatouille to me.

Garden ratatouille

Must haves:
Large eggplant
2-3 tomatoes
large onion, sliced Greek- style*
Red or green pepper (or both)
1 large carrot
2-3 cloves garlic

Also in here:
a couple of green beans
Large handful of swiss chard
7 small brussels sprouts, halved

Cut the eggplant into large chunks, place in a deep bowl and drench with olive oil. Mix it well, making sure the olive oil covers every chunk. Salt well and set aside. Soaking olive oil into eggplant is the secret to getting these to come out savory and tender rather than bitter and tough.

Cut other vegetables into slices or chunks. Put the onions and peppers in an 1/8th cup of water in a deep saucepan, saute until all the liquid is gone (including the liquid released by the vegetables), immediately put in the oil-drenched eggplants, adding more oil to keep it from sticking. Saute until eggplant starts to lose its color a little (it will turn greenish and then back to white), then add all the other vegetables. Saute until the broccoli is bright green and al dente.

Serve as a side dish with meat or polenta, or as I did, as a sauce for fettucini or your pasta of choice.

*to cut an onion Greek-style:

Cut off the ends. Balance the onion on one of these cut ends, and slice in half. Place the slice side down. Cut each slice angling in to the center-- never cut straight down. Cutting this way gives you every slice the exact same size.

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