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ratatouille

Ratatouille with Herb Corn Topping

Ratatouille with Herb Corn Topping

After last post’s summer-in-a-bowl, I was immediately ready for round two.

When the growing seasons’s at its prime, produce combinations fare to rarely ever bore me. As [insert singer of your choice here] says, “Gotta get it while the gettin’s good.”

In the August, the garden is good, and my fork is gettin’ it.

Ratatouille with Herb Corn Topping

Ratatouille remains a yearly favorite. It’s easy. It’s flexible. It’s quick, healthy, beautiful, and a million other adjectives.

To it, you can add chickpeas. You could add eggplant. You could add fresh thyme, pair it with bread, or top it with cheese. None of this I did. But you could, if you so please.

That’s the beauty of ratatouille.

Ratatouille with Herb Corn Topping

For my ratatouille, I generally do a combination of summer squash, tomatoes, onions and eggplant. I didn’t have eggplant available this time around, but I did have corn, so I whipped up this fancy-but-not-actually-fancy topping.

The corn adds an extra sweetness and crunch, which pairs well with the creamy grains placed beneath it. It’s also adds just one extra summery touch to a bowl full of already natural August goodness.

Ratatouille with Herb Corn Topping

Again, when veggies are fresh and local, you really needn’t do much to them but put them together and let their flavors swim free. Ready in 45 minutes or less (depending on your grain choice), this recipe lends itself well to a weeknight meal that’ll leave you feeling great. Pair with a side of protein, or sprinkle some toasted walnuts on top and call it a meal. Then most importantly, let your fork get in on that good.

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Eggs Simmered in Summer Tomato Sauce

Eggs Simmered in Tomato Sauce

Every time pasta’s in the picture, I’m asking my noodles to move over and make a little more room for the tomatoes in the bowl. I like to keep things saucy, and my linguine on its toes.

That being said, there’s rarely a ton of marinara leftover. However, when summer comes, I make my own, and I make sure that there’s plenty to spare. I chop all the tomatoes I have, onions, garlic, and sometimes a few other veggies, like eggplant, peppers, zucchini and summer squash. Then I add basil, thyme, oregano, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. It all gets paired with a slow simmer that yields a sauce that could easily be eaten by the spoon.

The result is also often a gallon full of red in and out of the pot on my stove. There will most definitely be room for leftovers, and recipes like this too.

Eggs Simmered in Summer Tomato Sauce

When you’ve got leftover sauce and no noodles to claim it, cracking a few eggs in it is a great way to go. It creates a light meal that goes perfectly with a side of crusty toast. I recommend going with a chunky sauce, one that almost errs more on the side of ratatouille than marinara. The extra veggies will add a nice platform for the eggs. If you’ve got a hot pepper, throw it in too. A spicy sauce with Parmesan topped eggs may have you saying goodbye to pasta all together.

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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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Roasted Ratatouille Pizza

Pre-cheese phase

“Homemade” anything, and it’s usually 100 times better than its pre-packaged counterpart.  Except for pizza.  I almost always find homemade pizza to be subpar.  It’s comparable to the frozen version, which is almost never as good as your neighborhood delivery.  Or better yet, that brick oven joint whose pizza stone you dream of.  Nope, never had a homemade pizza that tasted like that.  Then again, maybe that just means I need to introduce some more dough boys into my life.

But I still enjoy making a homemade pizza from time to time.  They’re fun to make, and the possibility of combining whatever toppings one could desire always gets me excited.  When you have quality toppings, homemade pizza can actually turn out better than delivery.  Even when your crust skills are terrible and the store-bought one doesn’t pull through.  Take the previous pizza I made before this one, which included an avocado so ripe I was tempted to devour the whole pie in one night. (Wouldn’t want a good avocado to go wasted…that always merits a few too many “I shouldn’t eat anymore” bites, right?)

And then there’s this one— a ratatouille pizza filled with so many roasted garden veggies, there’s virtually no way it could be deficient in flavor.  In fact, this was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had, and certainly one of the best I’ve ever made, even with the store-bought, whole wheat crust.  The roasted veggies create an all-in-one, caramelized topping/sauce combo. that is heaven in a slice.  Add some Daiya for an extra creamy pie, and don’t be shy on going heavy on the veggies.  I may not have the dough-stretching, pizza-tossing skills of a multi-generational pizza-making family, nor will I likely ever, but man do I have the top half covered.  More pizza please.
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Ratatouille

Another one of my favorite easy ways to cook up garden vegetables is ratatouille.  This dish is so surprisingly simple yet incredibly delicious.  It’s also super healthy.  The flavors of all of the vegetables seem to melt together in just the right way, creating a no-fuss dish that is sure to impress your friends with its robust taste.

Ratatouille

  • -2 onions, diced
  • -1 bell peppers, diced
  • -1 medium yellow summer squash, sliced into semicircles
  • -1 medium eggplant, diced
  • -4 medium tomatoes, diced or 1-15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • -A generous handful of basil leaves, chopped
  • -3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • -Salt, to taste
  • -Red chili pepper flakes, to taste, optional

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add onions and peppers to pan and saute for 5 minutes.  Add eggplant and yellow squash to pan and salt and pepper, to taste.  Saute for another 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and basil, and cook for another 10 minutes, or until all veggies are tender.

Serve alongside your favorite grain or pasta.