Harvest Ratatouille with Bacon

Nothing says Mediterranean more than the classic ratatouille. This spin on an old favorite, amped up with chunks of crispy thick bacon, make it a robust meal.

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1 medium-sized eggplant (about 1½ lbs)

2 T olive oil

3-4 medium zucchini (or yellow squash or both, about 1½lbs), thickly sliced

1½ lbs. tomatoes, skin removed and roughly chopped

1 medium sweet bell pepper, largely diced

1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, chopped

12oz. thick cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T Herbs de Provence

Sea salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel strips of the eggplant skin from top to bottom, leaving about an inch between each peel. Cut eggplant into large chunks . (If you prefer to leave the peel on, that’s fine, and likewise, removing it entirely is fine). Transfer the eggplant on to a cookie sheet, salt lightly and drizzle with olive oil. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.

 

While the eggplant is cooking, heat a Dutch oven (or a large deep skillet) and sauté the bacon until fairly crisp. Transfer pieces to a bowl. If there is more than 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings left in the pan, pour off the excess. Add the onion, garlic and peppers into the Dutch oven. Cook until lightly softened, add the zucchini and Herbs de Provence. Cook the zucchini until it begins to soften, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in the tomatoes to release the skin. Rinse immediately in cold water and peel the skin from the tomatoes. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, transfer them to the Dutch oven and cook for about 5 minutes.

 

Remove the eggplant from the oven, add it to the Dutch oven; add the bacon pieces. Let the ratatouille cook together another 20 minutes; adjust the seasoning for salt and pepper. At this point the ratatouille can sit in the Dutch oven off the heat for several hours, allowing the flavors to meld. Serves 6-8.

 

 

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Heirloom Tomatoes and Bacon Pasta Salad

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Herb Vinaigrette (see below)

12 ounces uncooked pasta such as orriachette

2 T olive oil, divided

4 ounces bacon

1½ pounds heirloom tomatoes, chopped

4 C loosely packed arugula

8 oz cheese, such as fontina or smoked gouda

15 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

3 T chopped fresh parsley

½ T red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Make Herb Vinaigrette (see instructions below).

 

Prepare pasta according to package directions for al dente. Toss together pasta and olive oil in a large bowl. Cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels until cool enough to handle. Crumble and reserve. Add tomatoes, next 5 ingredients, and 6 T vinaigrette to pasta; toss gently. Add salt and pepper to taste; top with bacon. Just before serving, stir in remaining vinaigrette.

 

 

Herb Vinaigrette

 

Makes about 3/4 cup

 

2 T red wine vinegar

1 T fresh lemon juice

4 small garlic cloves

½ C olive or grapeseed oil

12 fresh basil leaves

½ C fresh parsley leaves

½ C grated Parmesan cheese

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Process vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic cloves in a food processor until smooth. With processor running, pour oil through food chute in a slow, steady stream, processing until blended. Add basil leaves and parsley leaves, and process until smooth. Add Parmesan cheese; pulse to combine. Stir in kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 5 days.

 


Swiss Chard and Lemon Ricotta Pasta

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An easy last minute dinner since you may have the ingredients on hand. Kale, spinach and arugula work well too, and if you use spinach or arugula, no need to blanch in hot water. Just toss them in at the end. For a vegetarian version, substitute reconstituted dried mushrooms for the bacon and season with smoked salt. Dried mushrooms, reconstituted by soaking in hot water for 15-30 minutes, have a dense, meaty flavor analogous to bacon or pancetta. This recipe was adapted from Fine Cooking and Danielle made it for a class at Brookside in November 2014.

1 bunch Swiss chard (red, green or rainbow), well washed, ribs stripped and sliced
½ lb spaghetti or other pasta of your choice
¼ lb thick cut bacon, cut into ¼-inch sliceschard
½  large shallot, minced
Olive oil as needed
1/3 C ricotta cheese, whole milk or low fat
2 T Parmesan cheese
Zest from ½ lemon
¼  t salt, to taste
Pinch dried red pepper flakes

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Blanch the Swiss chard for 2 minutes. Scoop out the chard, and drain well. Rough chop the leaves and set the stem pieces aside. Keep the pot of water boiling, and add the pasta and cook according to package direction. Drain and set aside, retaining about 1 cup of liquid from cooking the noodles.

In a large sauté pan, fry bacon until just crispy. Add the shallot and sauté until soft, adding olive oil if needed. Add the Swiss chard stem pieces and cook another 2-3 minutes, until stems are tender. Add the chard leaves and toss well to break up any clumps. Combine the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses in a small bowl, and add the lemon zest, salt, and red pepper flakes. Add to the Swiss chard mixture in the sauté pan and mix well. Add cooked spaghetti, and some of the pasta water as needed. Serve warm. Serves 2-4.


BLT Pasta

blt pasta2 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced or 4-5 strips turkey bacon, diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or 1 large ripe tomato, cut into large dice
½ t sugar
1 leek, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
¼ C dry white wine
½ C chicken broth
1 t red wine vinegar
Dash of red pepper flakes, optional
1 large handful baby spinach leaves

4 ounces bucatini or spaghetti, cooked according to package

For the bread crumbs:

1 C (about one ½” – thick slice) French or rustic country bread, cubed
1 garlic clove

Make the bread crumbs: mince the garlic in a food processor, add the cubed bread and process until coarse. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the crumbs. Toast until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Set aside.

Sauté the bacon in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cook until crisp, then drain the pieces on a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of drippings. If using turkey bacon, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet and sauté bacon until browned (turkey bacon will not crisp up like thick-cut bacon). Remove bacon bits from skillet, add another splash of olive oil if necessary. Add the cut tomatoes and sugar, cook about 5 minutes, until tomatoes begin to caramelize. Add the leeks and cook until wilted, 3-4 minutes.

Deglaze the tomatoes with wine, simmer until liquid is nearly evaporated. Add the broth, vinegar, pepper flakes and simmer until reduced by 1/3. Add the spinach, bacon pieces and cooked spaghetti. Toss to coat, season with salt and pepper. Divide the pasta between two plates and sprinkle with bread crumbs before serving. Serves 2.


Burnished Chicken with Parsnips and Sweet Potatoess

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At the end of a full day of work putting the garden to bed — pulling out the spent tomato plants, bringing in the last of the peppers and eggplant, clearing, weeding, pruning, then clearing some more and mulching — this was a great meal to sit down to.   Especially since the parsnips were part of what came in from the garden.  Make-ahead tip: Marinate the chicken in the morning and stick it in the refrigerator; prep your veggies. At dinner time, all you have to do is put them all on a baking sheet and in about 40 minutes it’ll be ready.  Oh, and don’t forget that green salad – what goes well with this is a mix of arugula (still going strong in the jardin) and shredded radicchio with a wine vinegar-olive oil dressing. The chicken dish will make four hearty appetites very happy. Adapted from our buddies at Fine Cooking. Read More


Georgia Peach and Tomato Salad

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4 C heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 ripe peaches, diced
1 (14-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed OR 1 vacuum-sealed package of steamed black-eyed peas*
2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
¼ C red onion, diced
4-5 strips thick-cut bacon, diced
3 T apple cider vinegar
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Toss the tomato wedges, diced peaches, black-eyed peas, spinach and onion gently in a serving bowl.

In a small skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon pieces to a bowl and reserve the drippings for the dressing. Whisk in the vinegar, season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture over salad and toss again gently to coat. Sprinkle with bacon bits and serve.