Over last weekend I made two of my favorite dishes when fresh ingredients are available. Ratatouille and fruit crisp! Two perfect summer foods. Made even better that the ratatouille was mostly made from fresh vegetables from our family’s garden:
The Japanese eggplants were from Whole Foods. The zucchini, summer squash and cucumbers (cucumbers did not – and do not – go in ratatouille) were from the sous chef’s sister and brother in law’s garden. It is so amazing to have fresh vegetables!! We are thinking about planting our own garden next year. The basil that went into the ratatouille was from my backyard, so we did pretty well with homegrown produce for this recipe, I think!
I used Jacques Pépin’s recipe from one of his Fast Food My Way cookbooks (if you have not added these books to your cookbook collection, you really must. I love the first two Fast Food My Way books and can’t recommend them enough!) Because I did not have the books right in front of me, I googled for them and found the KQED site that lists the recipe. Click here for the recipe.
I love how easy, fresh and simple this recipe is. You don’t have to stand over the stove, and the most hands on time is the chopping of the vegetables. Once they are in the pot, you can move on to other things and stir every so often. The pot always looks beautiful when we’re cooking ratatouille!
The only difference from the Pépin recipe and my recipe is that I sauté the onion in a little olive oil to cook them before adding everything else into the pot. The sous chef can’t eat raw onions, so I like to cook onions a little more if I know he will be eating the end product. The bonus of doing this is that the fragrance of cooking onions in olive oil is amazing - by far one of my favorite smells in the kitchen!
We used San Marzano canned whole tomatoes in the ratatouille. Garlic, zucchini, summer squash (the original recipe does not call for summer squash but we had fresh ones from the garden!), one cubanelle pepper chopped and seeded, freshly minced garlic, two cups of diced onion (which is about 3/4 of a large onion if you’re wondering) went into the pot with a little water, olive oil, freshly ground pepper and a small pinch of salt.
The end product was the most delicious thing I have eaten all summer! In my final bowl was a little bit of pasta, freshly grated parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper, fresh basil from our back yard and two scoops of ratatouille. I went back for seconds of the vegetables. It’s only when I’m putting a spoonful of this in my mouth that I remember how much I love ratatouille and while I was eating this dinner, I wondered why I had not made it in so long. I ate it for three days this week! I will definitely be making it again soon.
The second wonderful thing I made last weekend was a recipe from Bon Appetite for fruit crisp. In my recipe I used four peaches and a container of fresh, organic blueberries:
I mixed the fruit together with 2 T corn starch, 2/3 C sugar (the recipe called for 1 cup of sugar) a good sprinkle of cinnamon (not called for in the original recipe) freshly squeezed lemon juice and freshly grated lemon. This combination was amazing all by itself! I stirred everything up and let it sit while I put together the crumble in my food processor…
Cold butter cut up, brown sugar (by far my favorite sweet ingredient ever!!), flour, oats and kosher salt. I pulsed everything together…
After the mixture was coming together I poured the mixture into a small bowl and worked in the last 1/4 cup of rolled oats into the mixture. Once this was finished, I transferred the fruit mixture into the pyrex baking dish…
Topped it off with the crumble:
and baked it at 375 for 60 minutes. The end result looked and smelled pretty amazing:
We served the crisp with Breyers light vanilla ice cream – really, the only thing I would serve with this crisp! It was delicious.
We brought it over for a family dinner get together on Sunday. Most people had seconds (which always makes me happy) we came back with a little left over, and enjoyed it on Monday night, too.
By cooking these two things I really felt like I was taking full advantage of the fresh produce available in New England, which made everything taste even better!