This past weekend we dashed in the first sprinkling of rain to our local farmer's market in La Canada. It is a modest affair...but somehow my week would not feel complete with out a visit to this parking lot turned market on Saturday mornings. We had on our "Southern California" rain gear a.k.a. a hat, a vest and yes flip flops... come on..it is kind of raining but not really more like spitting. Mother Nature was having a good time with me as well, because whenever we were in the car...no rain...and then every time I got out of the car to dash about for the next errand...rain.. or spit! Anyhow I digress...
It has been over 100 degrees for what seems like months now and the thought of heating up my kitchen/house with the oven is a no brainer...aaaahhh let me think about that for a second...hummmm..NO! But then this week the weather has somehow shifted, there is a breeze blowing and today Mr. Forecaster actually said 72! I looked at D this morning...did he say glorious 72? The perfect temperature...especially for cooking in the oven.
I felt like cooking something hearty, something warm, something dripping with yummy olive oil. So I looked in my crisper drawer and found the last bits of our late summer farmer's market bounty. Small purple eggplants, white zucchini squash, a rainbow assortment of peppers...red, yellow and orange...and I thought ratatouille! I actually had never made it before. So I searched around my cookbooks for a recipe. Who knew there were as many variations on ratatouille as there are fingerprints.
After much deliberation I settled on Mark Bittman's recipe in "How To Cook Everything". I did make a few adjustments. This recipe does not include zucchini , I added mine for good measure. It also calls for 10 garlic cloves, which I am sure would be wonderfully delicious. Side note ~ I have a two year old and a English man in the house...and honestly...that is just so not going to fly! So I reduced the garlic cloves to 4. We were all happy. I also added a few more herbs than called for. I added a tablespoon of rosemary and a tablespoon thyme freshly cut from my herb garden. My chives were also begging to trimmed so I also added probably a tablespoon of chives. Maybe that's why my picture looks so herby. But it was yummy and not overpoweringly herby at all. Is herby a word?
Here is the recipe with with my small changes noted...
Tian of Vegetables
Makes 4 servings
Time - 1 1/2 hours
10 cloves garlic (4) Peel and cut in half
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 large eggplants, about 2# total, sliced 1/2 inch thick and salted ( I used about 6-8 small eggplants)
4 red or yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, sliced into 3 or 4 pieces each (I cut into smaller pieces)
4 ripe red tomatoes, cored, skins ans seeds removed and cut into thick slices
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, rosemary or savory leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, basil, or chervil leaves for garnish
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350
In a casserole, make a layer of onion, followed by one of eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic cloves. Repeat. Drizzle the ratatouille with the olive oil and place in the oven. Bake for about an hour, pressing down on the vegetables occasionally, until they are all completely tender. Garnish and serve.