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Armed with an assortment of summer squash, young sweet onions, fresh basil, and the first eggplant of the season, I knew as soon as I picked up my CSA share this weekend that I needed to make ratatouille. The only thing that kept this from being absolutely perfect is that tomatoes aren’t quite in season; I used canned tomatoes, but this was still pretty damn good and tasted like summer.
Ratatouille is a project for a slow weekend afternoon. There are no complicated cooking techniques here, but there are a lot of vegetables to wash, chop, and cook separately before allowing the stew to simmer together for an hour or so.
It was quite relaxing for me, and filled my apartment with so many good smells! Be sure to make a large batch to make it extra worth the effort; leftovers keep for a week in the fridge or practically forever in the freezer.
yield: 8-10 servings; adapted from The Kitchn
- 2 large eggplants, about 2 pounds
- 2 yellow or young white onions
- 3 bell peppers
- 1.5 lbs. zucchini and/or summer squash
- one 28-oz can of tomatoes (or use fresh tomatoes, if they’re in season!)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp. dried or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup loosely packed basil, sliced into ribbons, plus more for garnish
- Salt and pepper
- Dice the eggplant (peeled or not, it’s up to you). Transfer to a strainer set over a bowl, and toss with a tablespoon of salt. Let the eggplant sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Dice the onions and chop the peppers, zucchinis, and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces, placing each vegetable in a separate bowl so you can cook them in batches. Mince the garlic.
- Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and some salt. Sauté until the onions have softened and are just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the peppers and cook until they have softened, too, about another 5 minutes. Transfer to a large, clean bowl.
- Add another teaspoon of oil to the pot, and sauté the zucchini with a generous pinch of salt until the zucchini has softened and begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the zucchini to the bowl with the onions and peppers.
- Rinse the eggplant and gently squeeze it with your hands to remove as much moisture as possible. Warm two teaspoons of oil in the pan and sauté the eggplant until it becomes soft and starts to turn translucent, about 10 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to the bowl with the other vegetables.
- Warm another teaspoon of olive oil in the pan and sauté the garlic until it is fragrant and just starting to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme. Scrape the bottom of the pan as the tomato mixture begins to simmer; you want to get up the glaze that formed when you were cooking the other vegetables.
- Add all of the vegetables back into the pan and stir until everything is evenly mixed. Bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat to low. Stirring occasionally, simmer for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 1/2 hours, depending on whether you want a chunkier stew, or more of a broken-down, silky one.
- Remove the bay leaf. Just before taking the ratatouille off the heat, stir in the basil. Sprinkle the extra basil and a splash of olive oil over each bowl as you serve.
As you cook the vegetables, a brown glaze will build up on the bottom of the pan; that’s normal. If it looks like it’s going to burn (starts to turn black), though, turn down the heat and deglaze the pot between batches of vegetables. To deglaze, pour 1/4 cup water or wine into the pan and scrape up the glaze; pour the deglazing liquid into the bowl with the cooked vegetables and continue cooking the rest of them.
3 notes /
In the summer, I can’t get enough of cool, crunchy salads with a little bit of a kick. This Thai-inspired salad with cucumbers, carrots, lime, and chili certainly does the trick! Just beware that keeping it in the fridge overnight does result in a less crunchy experience (though it will still be perfectly edible, the cucumbers will have lost some of their snap).
Thai-Inspired Carrot & Cucumber Salad
yield: 4-6 servings
- 2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
- 1/2 large red onion, diced
[For the dressing]
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 fresh red chili, de-seeded and minced
- 1 tsp. white sugar
- a few grinds of black pepper
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Taste, and add more red chili or more sugar, depending on your preferences for spicy versus sweet.
- Pour the dressing over the vegetables in a large bowl and toss to thoroughly coat the veggies.
- Cover and refrigerate for a half hour to an hour, tossing once, to allow the vegetables to absorb some of the dressing. This salad works best if you don’t keep it much longer than an hour or two after making; the cucumbers will start to get soft.
This is the most delightful way to cook with carrot greens. I actually wish I’d had more on hand so that I could have doubled the recipe; the tops from one bunch of carrots only makes enough for 1-2 people.
The most astonishing thing about this dish is the complete transformation of flavors: the carrot greens go from earthy and slightly bitter to bursting with umami and tasting almost seaweed-like.
I’ll be honest, the dish requires a lot of time and attention for not a large yield, but if you can spare the time and have the forethought, it is totally worth it.
Carrot Greens with Sesame Dressing
- 1 bunch carrot greens, washed and stemmed
- 3 tbsp. toasted and ground white sesame seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. sake or rice wine vinegar
- 1/8 tbsp. sugar
- In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, blanch carrot greens for 2 minutes, then shock in ice water drain and squeeze dry. Place in a new bowl of cold water and refrigerate overnight, changing water 2-3 times to eliminate bitter flavor. Drain and squeeze again, then cut into 1/2 inch lengths.
- In a medium bowl, dress carrot greens with sesame seeds, soy sauce, sake, and sugar. Allow greens to sit and marinate at least 1 hour before serving.
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This recipe made its rounds through the CSA mailing list; combining turnips, peas, and dill – all found in the week 6 share – made it the perfect CSA dish. Well…almost perfect. The original recipe features bacon as a major flavor component; I omitted it because I never want to ruin perfectly good vegetables with the addition of bacon. :P (I also cut back on the butter; I love butter, but there is just no reason to use an entire stick.)
Peas & Turnips with Dill Butter
adapted from Bon Appétit; serves 6
- 5 tbsp. butter, room temperature (I use unsalted so I have more control over the final amount of salt)
- 1/4 c. chopped fresh dill
- 1 1/4 c. hakurei turnips, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
- 3 cups fresh or frozen shelled peas
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Mix 4 tbsp. butter and all but a tablespoon of the dill in small bowl, until the dill is evenly incorporated into the butter. Season with salt and pepper.
- Melt remaining tablespoon of butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add turnips and sauté until tender and golden, about 10 minutes.
- Add the peas and dill butter, and stir until peas are heated through / cooked, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with the remaining dill just before serving.