Eating Local: Garden Ratatouille

20120708-182307.jpg Last week was a bit rough at The Soffritto. We, like many other mid-atlantic state inhabitants, lost power for many days & lost my fridge/freezer contents as well. The power came back quite serendipitously as I went to pick up my CSA goodies. On the verge of tears I contemplated what I was going to do with all of the veg & eggs. At that moment I received a text message from my neighbor: "the power is back!" I was (and still am) full of joy & relief. That day I filled the fridge with kale, eggs, cucumbers, squash, green beans, peas, and eggplant. After a few days restoring order to the house I'm ready to start cooking and blogging again - how about some ratatouille?!




Ingredients: -2 summer squash, sliced into discs, with a knife or mandolin -2 bell peppers julienned -3 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, large ones halved -2 cloves of garlic, smashed -3 Japanese eggplant, or one large - though I recommend the smaller varieties, sliced into discs - 2 shallots or one small sweet onion, diced - 1 tbsp fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme) - a few sprigs of basil (I used Marseilles) - olive oil - salt & pepper


Method: - preheat oven to 375, move the rack to the center position - place paper towels on a sheet pan & lay out eggplant discs. Salt them & let them weep while you work on the rest of the dish, 10-20 mins. I like to flip them and salt the other side too. - in a large Dutch oven or sauce pan, add olive oil, shallots & garlic. Cook for a few minutes then salt & add tomatoes - cook until the tomatoes pop, 5-10 mins on low heat, then stir in the thyme -pour the sauce into an oven-safe dish then begin layering the eggplant, squash & peppers. I tucked in a bit of basil as well - season the veg with salt, pepper and a generous drizzle of olive oil - cover with parchment paper and bake for 50-55 mins, check at the 30 minute mark - serve with buttered French bread & finish with fresh basil and another drizzle of olive oil




The final product is a bright & satisfying dish that fills the belly of the most discerning 4 year old, as well as me & the husband. We love it over buttered french bread...makes a good lunch too. If you are a Pixar fan, you may remember this style of ratatouille from the movie Ratatouille. This most certainly plays into my sneaky Mama plans of getting my little dude to take 10 minutes to eat. If you're going for a more rustic take, cook it all on the stove-top and save yourself 30 minutes. I think it's worth the time...and I will be making this a few more times this summer, my eggplant is growing like gangbusters!