Summer Bounty, Part 1: Ratatouille

These warm summer months give us the most colorful produce of the year, and if you have a garden, they come in great abundance, and all at once.

CSA July 15th
Box contents from the Riverview Farms CSA for the week of July 15th, 2015

I’ve been subscribing to a CSA  this summer (that’s “Consumer Supported Agriculture” – basically a subscription service to a local farm with weekly boxes of whatever is fresh that week) and since I found big weekly boxes too much to handle, I’ve found someone to split the subscription up with me so that I pick up every other week.

Now that summer is in full swing, we are getting lots of wonderful tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, squash and eggplant.  The combination of the beautiful small onions from the last box along with the fresh garlic practically scream out for ratatouille.  It is such a wonderful, simple dish, elegant and rustic at the same time.  (And don’t let the animated film with the cute rat fool you, there is no need to make it a sculptured example of your perfect knife skills.  Chop it all up and throw it in a pot!)

Here is my pot of fresh vegetables ready cook down slowly to combine flavors:Raw ratatouille

Not so much a recipe as a list of stuff that went from box to heavy duty saucepan:

1 eggplant, peeled, chopped, and salted in a colander for a few hours to pull out the bitterness and some of the liquid
4-8 tomatoes, depending on how many you’ve got and how red you want it to be.  I made the first batch this summer with a few of those orangey-yellow tomatoes and it came out a rich gold color!
3-6 zucchini squash or summer squash, large diced
4-6 onions, depending on size, large diced
1/2 head of fresh garlic, roughly chopped
A serious glug or two of a good quality olive oil.  I may have used up to 1/2 cup for this batch.
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh herbs if you have them, especially basil.  I also added a tablespoon or so of my Italian Herb Seasoning blend.

After salting the eggplant, rinse to remove the excess salt. Dice the other vegetables and add to the pot.
Place on low heat and plan on coming back to stir every so often.  Let it cook down for an hour or two or longer until you like the consistency.
It is good at room temperature as a dip or spread for bruschetta or crackers, or it can be tossed over pasta or used as a sauce for a meat cutlet.

Cooked Ratatouille, ready for dipping, spreading or saucing.

It freezes well, which makes it a great way to preserve your summer bounty long into the cold winter!

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