Friday, September 6, 2013


your colors may vary
Last week, a neighbor brought me veggies from his farm: eggplant, peppers, summer squash, and tomatoes. The quantity was a bit daunting until I thought of ratatouille. Besides being the title of a delightful animated film, ratatouille is a summer vegetable stew made from all those late summer treats I mentioned. Additionally, it contains lots of garlic and often basil.

I had made this dish before, but my last batch was a bit watery for my tastes. In fact, a watery texture is one reason why I used to avoid many summer squashes. When I was younger, they were served to me steamed or boiled. Not only didn't they look very appetizing but they were also bland and limp. Then I discovered grilling and roasting summer squash, and my attitude towards these vegetables switched 180 degrees.

But back to the ratatouille. I looked at various recipes online and settled on one by Alice Waters, a California chef I had met years ago. What I liked about her recipe was that the vegetables were all cooked separately at first and then combined. Although this takes slightly longer than just throwing everything into a pot, the results are wonderful. The vegetables had wonderful textures. I served it the stew as a side dish that evening. The next day, I made an open faced sandwiches, serving veggies over crusty French bread that had been sliced lengthwise, toasted, and topped with melted provolone.

Because I received the vegetables as a gift, I did not think too much about colors. I had an abundance of yellow squash, pale purple fairy tale eggplant, and purple bell peppers, which lose most coloring during cooking . This meant that my completed dish was not as colorful as one would be if it were made with red bell peppers, green and yellow squashes, and regular dark eggplant. Were I buying vegetables for this dish, I would probably consider color. Still, I had several spectacular meals from this recipe, and I encourage you to try it.

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