In the past few weeks, I’ve been going to the farmer’s market a lot. My fingers still hurt from cutting corn off 100 ears. I wish I could help myself, but I just can’t resist the prices. I possibly have a produce addiction – – I just don’t know. When the vendor offers me 45 pounds of cucumbers for $10, how do I turn that down? I am really proud of myself, because I recently said “no” to 10 heads of cabbage for $5. I was going out of town, and knew I couldn’t possibly deal with that amount in such a short time. It took restraint, especially because the vendor kept pushing it, like he was a dealer of illegal substances. Because I don’t have the fridge space or a root cellar (yet – – just watch me), I had to decline. How very painful.
I most recently got 26 pounds of organic eggplant for $10, and the same with tomatoes. I love eggplant, but 26 pounds is a lot. I knew part of the solution was cooking something in bulk and freezing or canning. I decided to make ratatouille.
This is more of a technique than a recipe. I chopped up two big eggplants, tomatoes, summer squash, sweet bell peppers, onion, and lots and lots of garlic. Just throw the whole garlic cloves in the pan. I put all the vegetables in a big roasting pan, and added 1/2 cup of olive oil, fresh basil and oregano, salt and pepper. I cooked the mixture at 375 for an hour or so, stirring every so often, or until desired softness.
You can serve this as a side dish, alongside pasta and grilled chicken or fish. As for me, I have been pureeing this mixture and tossing with pasta, homemade sausage, and Parmesan cheese. I was assuming my 8 and 6 year-olds would not eat the mixture unless I turned this into a sauce. With this last batch, I decided to have them taste the ratatouille before I pureed the vegetables. To my surprise and giddy delight, they both loved it, and asked for more. This is the kind of thing which excites me – – seeing my children spoon loads of different vegetables into their mouths. Ratatouille is one easy, healthy dish, so try it out on your family.