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Summer Squash Ratatouille with Polenta Cakes

Ratatouille is by far a summer fav. It’s quick to pull together and the freshness of the season’s bounty lets its simplicity warrant a plate full of flavor. That’s truly the key to this recipe—garden-fresh veggies. If you aren’t growing your own, get to your local farmer’s market and grab a squash or two, a few vine-ripened tomatoes, and fresh basil. It will make all the difference.

I paired this summer squash version of ratatouille with slightly charred polenta cakes, simply crisped up under the broiler. I can totally see these thrown on the grill too, just be sure to also throw a sheet of aluminum foil below them to prevent any dismantlement. If you decided to stick with the oven route, avoid getting sidetracked during the cakes’ baking time. This girl over here ended up setting off the smoke alarm. Twice. Ooops.

As a light summer dish that comes together in no time, this is one I ideally picture eaten outside, catching the sun before it goes down and perhaps paired with a glass of red wine. Despite the brief ear-piercing episode from my smokin’ oven, my polenta cakes ended up perfectly charred. With each bite from these, picturing the romanticized Italian backdrop from your own yard gets easier and easier.

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Herbed Salmon

I love being able to have fresh herbs in the garden.  I miss them dearly when it’s winter, and I miss them when they’re without of my reach in Philly.  Herbs turn into a lush ingredient when a store is required for obtainment, and much of the time they’re half dead anyways.  Unless I make it out to a trusty farmer’s market where I can pick my own, I go much of the year without fresh herbs.  Needless to say, I rejoice when I’m home amidst my mom’s luxurious herb quarters in the garden.

While dried herbs often work fine, there’s just something special about using fresh.  Here, they add a subtle, but enriching flavor to my favorite pescetarian item—salmon.  Tarragon adds hints of an anise-like flavor, but cooks into the salmon so as not to add an overpowering licorice flavor.  Dill and lemon also elements of freshness, without drawing too much from the actual flavor of the salmon.  Use a grill or broiler to get a nice crispy exterior, while keeping the center moist.

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