Friday, September 6, 2013

Summer's End Ratatouille

way, way easier than pie 
(that whole easy-as-pie thing is kind of a misnomer, right?)
Summer's End Ratatouille 
Now that's a sexy pot of summery goodness, am I right?

The days of seasonal zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes are numbered, so let's get a little hedonistic with the last of summers bounty shall we? Let's grab everything that's left and eat big ol' piles of stewed vegetables for days and days and days. Yeah, I know. You're probably thinking (or screaming), can we please talk about anything around here besides the inevitable end of Summer? No. Sorry. For now at least, the answer is no. I can't think of a better way to enjoy these waning produce-filled days than with ratatouille. It is, in my humble opinion, a perfect dish. Almost embarrassingly simple, it comes together in a snap, combines the very best produce of the season, and the versatility can't be beat. It can be enjoyed hot or cold, served all on its own or as a side, pair it with pasta or, better yet, a loaf or crusty bread brushed in olive oil. It can even be frozen and enjoyed on those previously
(and endlessly) discussed dark winter days. 

Some ratatouille ingredients, ready for slicing.

*recipe notes
Some recipes call for a finer dice on the vegetables, but I prefer chunkier as the flavors and, more importantly, texture of the individual veggies can get lost with a finer dice. Use what's available! I think ratatouille is more of an outline than an acutual recipe; you can use different types of squash, leave out some ingredients (peppers for example), add in others, you get the idea. The chunkier dice will also help the vegetables maintain their integrity if you plan on freezing. The texture of the dish will change slightly if frozen and reheated. It will be more stew like, but still delicious. I'd suggest doubling or tripling the recipe if you plan on freezing, because why the hell not?

Summer's End Ratatouille
serves 4-6 (or 2-4 if you're me and mine)

3Tbsp olive oil
1Tbsp red wine (optional)
1 large onion (yellow or sweet), thinly sliced
1 head of garlic, cloves finely minced
one bell pepper, green red or yellow, sliced thin
Diced eggplant, about 3-4 cups
1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into thin slices
3-4 medium-sized tomatoes, diced (about 2c)
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2c shredded fresh basil leaves

Add oil to a large skillet or soup pot over medium-low heat.
Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes until slightly translucent.
Add garlic and eggplant and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes.
Once eggplant has softened, add zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and wine.
Season with the salt and pepper 
and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 8-10 minutes 
until all vegetables are tender.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Add fresh basil once cooking has completed, stirring some into the dish and 
reserving the rest for garnish. 

Then eat, eat, eat it until you can't eat no more.