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.

 

 


Gratin of White Bean, Zucchini, Tomato

white bean gratin

We first posted this recipe three years ago, after it had become a perennial favorite in our households. A go-to for using up summer zucchini, this gratin is hearty enough to satisfy winter appetites. The zucchini can be replaced with delicata or butternut, but you’ll have to increase the cooking time. The gratin also could be assembled and baked in the oven for about 30 minutes before being broiled.  We demoed this for USBG as part of our January heirloom bean theme; we used fresh dried beans rather than canned ones. The original recipe came from The Washington Post so many years ago they don’t have it in their archives any more!

3 T olive oil
3 zucchini, cut into chunks
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 ½ C canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
2 T fresh thyme
4 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1 15-oz can white beans – cannellini, navy or great northern, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat a skillet and add olive oil; when oil is hot, add zucchini and saute over medium-high heat until lightly browned; remove with slotted spoon and reserve.  Add onion and garlic, turn heat down, cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, five minutes, until onion is soft and translucent.  Add tomatoes, bring to a simmer, cook another five minutes.  Add thyme, basil, beans and zucchini.  Simmer five minutes, taste for seasoning.  Pour mixture into a gratin dish and top with shredded cheese. Place gratin under pre-heated broiler five minutes or until cheese is lightly brown and melted.  Serve immediately.


Greek Zucchini Fritters

zucchini fritttersThe zucchini this year has been fantastic. Typically by mid-August borers hidden in the stems of squash plants have done their work almost overnight rendering foliage into wilted into a mass of brownish detritus. The few plants that do withstand a borer invasion rarely survive the onslaught of squash bugs, which spread a fungus that paints plant’s big, coarse leaves with white powder. I measure my success in growing squash in how long I can keep either one of these scourges at bay, and this summer has been a banner one. It might be the cold winter we endured, or our relatively cool summer here in the mid-Atlantic, with far fewer hot and humid days than we typically experience, but whatever the reason, the  zucchini, patty pan and yellow squashes have been coming on abundantly and the plants are showing no signs of stress yet.patty pan Read More


Spring Edamame Soup

edamame

This soup goes together very quickly and begs to be served immediately so the lovely spring vegetables retain their bright green color don’t get overcooked.  If you have leftovers, however, they will still be delicious reheated, if not quite as pretty. Adrienne demoed this at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton MD February 19, 2014.  This soup came from Cuisine magazine’s Splendid Soups special.

2 T olive oil
3 oz diced proscuitto or pancetta
2 C diced leeks
1 T minced garlic
2 t oregano
½ t red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 C white wine
4 C chicken or vegetable broth
3 C frozen shelled edamame
1 C chopped zucchini
1 C chopped asparagus
1/3 C sliced fresh basil
1/4 C chopped fresh mint
1 T lemon juice
salt and pepper
shaved Parmesan or Pecorino
lemon zest

Heat olive oil in a large pot; add diced meat and saute until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.  Add next three ingredients and turn heat down to low-medium; cover pot and cook about 5 minutes until leeks and garlic are soft. Add white wine and cook until nearly evaporated.  Stir in broth, and bring to a boil.  Add edamame, zucchini and asparagus.  Reduce heat and simmer soup until vegetables are just tender. Remove from heat, add reserved proscuitto, basil, mind and lemon juice.  Stir in and taste for seasoning.  Serve immediately, garnished with shaved cheese and lemon zest.


Summer Squash and Tomato Gratin

gratin

Give this gratin time to cook slowly, releasing juices and then caramelizing slightly.  This gentle treatment emboldens flavors and intensifies the sugars.  What you’ll get is not just an explosion of summer flavors, bur also a rich, satisfying dish that could easily be the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal.  Using the basic recipe, experiment with different vegetable combinations, such as potatoes and eggplant, and also with different cheeses.  You’re sure to agree that this dish captures the essence of late summer.  Adapted from Fine Cooking. Read More