I have this little calendar that sits next to my computer, a gift from a friend. It’s filled with wisdom and small inspirations for everyday life. Every morning I’m greeted with a new thought or quote for the day.
So Saturday morning I read . . . .
Looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them.
Lucy Maud Montgomery
And that’s exactly how I felt about my Ratatouille Adventure!
I love this time of year when Summer meets Fall! When tomatoes and zucchini meet up with Acorn Squash, onions and cold weather greens. It’s a medley of flavors for sure and I’ve been craving a pot of something warm, rich in flavor and fresh!
I’ve always wanted to make Ratatouille – so this weekend when Mick’s homegrown eggplants were ready to harvest we decided to go on an adventure to find the rest of our ingredient list! So we jumped in the car and headed over to an organic farm I’ve been hearing rumblings about, the Meyer Farm in Wauconda (not far from where we live). And we found everything we needed, onions, zucchini, sweet red peppers and fresh oregano!
Here’s a Picture of a part of their farm stand . . . .
Have you ever felt that you’ve discovered a Gem hiding right in your back yard? That’s how Mick and I felt Saturday when we hiked about the farm and fed the chickens and visited the rows of Rosemary (they started as an herb farm) . . . a blissful Fall afternoon! But we had work to do . . . a new recipe to dive into!
Here’s a picture of Mick’s Eggplants!
Oh my gosh how we have been enjoying this awesome seasonal dish! Even PK gave me a thumbs up (yep)! I served it with Crusty (still warm) Sour Dough Bread . . . . which as I’ve been reading is just what you want to accompany this herb-infused, kinda creamy savory dish!!
I think Lucy was right on . . . . looking forward is half the pleasure of it all . . .
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes OR 1/2 can + 5 fresh tomatoes, med
6 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large eggplant OR 2 small, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 yellow onions, diced large
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 bell peppers OR 6 small sweet, seeded and diced large
1 large zucchini, diced large
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, lightly chopped
2-3 Tablespoons Red-wine OR balsamic vinegar (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut tomatoes into 3/4 inch chunks and place them along with their juices on a rimmed baking sheet. If using fresh tomatoes, leave skins on. Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons oil and toss gently. Bake until thickened, 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
2. While the tomatoes are baking, place eggplant in a large bowl and toss with the kosher salt. Let sit about 20 minutes. In a large pot, heat 4 Tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until onion and garlic are soft, 5 minutes. Add the peppers and cook, stirring until crisp-tender, 4 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bay leaf and oregano to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and partially cover. Cook at a gentle simmer until vegetables are tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle and toss with vinegar as desired.
The original recipe calls for a drizzle of red wine vinegar just before serving, but the Ratatouille was so amazing just as it was I decided to take a pass. Also, I used smaller sweet red peppers from Meyers Farm and half canned and half fresh tomatoes (the juices thicken a bit in the oven). I tried a bit of the Ratatouille with a drizzle of some 12 year old balsamic I have and it was delicious – but really, what I was craving was that fresh herb and vegetable farm fresh flavor.
Simple. . . . BIG YUM!
Recipe Adapted From: Everyday Food, October 2010,