We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a breaking news alert.
Ba-beep, ba-beep, beep, beeeeeeeeeeep.
The official end of summer is September 23rd which by my calculations, bearing in mind I work with numbers for a living, is still a full two weeks away. You know what that means right?
Of course your do because you’re as intellectually stimulating as me, and you recognize the downfall of ending a season too early and starting another too soon.
Yes, the loose translation is ease up on the pumpkin, peeps. Close the lid and back away from the can. You can do it. I have total faith in you. Then again, I have seen crack addicts with more self control. I’ll be honest, if you’re not willing to me meet halfway, I might have to spike your Pumpkin Spice Latte.
I don’t judge. Alright that’s not true. When it comes to all things pumpkin, I’m kind of a hater. I’ll be the very first to admit it, and I’ll even take it a step further and tell you I don’t have a great reason why. Truth be told, I find the flavoring to be…okay, I guess, although certainly nothing to write home about, not that I’ve been doing much of that anyway, unless of course you count the blog.
My anti-pumpkin sentiment and haterish ways is really a result of pumpkin mania. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the craze which takes the blog world by storm come Autumn, like a plague of locusts they descend and destroy anything and everything in its path, including little ol’ me. Remember I am pocket sized.
The simple truth is I like the underdog, and we all can agree pumpkin is not the underdog.
My very regular readers know, I do an anti-pumpkin post every year. As such, we all knew this one was coming. I just didn’t realize it’d still be in the heart of summer. Alright fine, the tail end, which is why today, I’m bringing Ratatouille to the party.
I am doing my part and making the most of my late summer produce.
- Because I love veggies, enough to start a sentence with a preposition even.
- I’m still getting all the veggies in my food share, and
- Ratatouille rocks.
The best way to describe Ratatouille is a savory vegetable stew utilizing mid to late summer produce and fresh herbs, all of which is in abundance right now in Cleveland. It’s a bowl of comfort, wrapped in intense flavor. I prefer to toss mine with some fresh pappardelle pasta. It’s like a dream come true, only served up family style.
Now, you can use whatever vegetables you’ve got on hand. I like to include lots of onions and garlic because they rock, also, eggplant is almost always involved. The rest is whatever I’ve got going on; typically loads of bell peppers, summer squash, and zucchini, finished with freshly diced tomatoes, juice and all. In fact the juicier, the better. You already knew that though, you intellectual prodigy.
I follow two simple methods when I make Ratatouille.
- I cook it low and slow.
- I also break the veggies down pieces and parts at a time before adding another round.
There might be some fancy culinary name for what I’m doing; I say I’m building flavor.
While the veggies are somewhat interchangeable, there is one hard and fast rule to follow when it comes to Ratatouille. Those beautiful globes of goodness must be in their prime, meaning Make. This. Now.
Sorry if I came across as a wee bit demanding. This is not a dish you make in the wintertime though. Simple stated, you need fresh, seasonal produce, so pretty please with a locally sourced, GMO free, cherry on top, Make. This. Now.
- 2 1/2 cups Squash and Zucchini, roasted
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup Olive Oil
- 1/3 cup Onion, diced
- 1 medium Eggplant, diced
- 4 cloves Garlic, diced
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 2 cups Bell Pepper, diced
- 2 large Tomatoes, diced
- 2 tsp. dried Thyme
- 3 Tbsp. fresh Basil, cut into ribbons
- Pappardelle Pasta, cooked according to package directions.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lay squash on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Drizzle squash with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let cook for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
- While squash are roasting, add 1/3 cup of olive oil to a large pot over medium high heat. Once the oil is warm, add your onions, a crank of salt and pepper and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium and add in eggplant, garlic, bay leaf, another crank of salt and pepper and let cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce heat to low and add in bell peppers, roasted squash, tomatoes, thyme and basil, yet another crank of salt and pepper and cook for another 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Taste it and add additional seasonings if desired.
- The longer you cook it, the thicker it will become. Once ratatouille has reached desired thickness, remove from eat and serve over a bed of pasta.
- To freeze, add cooked Ratatouille, without pasta, to a freezer safe container. When ready to use, defrost, and reheat in a saucepan with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.
Have you ever made Ratatouille? How do you like to prepare it? Have you already forsaken summer produce for all things pumpkin? Say it ain’t so, Joe.