Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ratatouille and Collards over Creamy Polenta

My garden's production level is declining rapidly.

As the days grow shorter and brisker, my lovely fruits and delicate tomatoes shrink back to their pre-spring states and my herbs begin to wither.

The one upside to the start of autumn? Autumn fruits and vegetables!! Unfortunately, most autumn-season fruits require slightly more robust roots (usually in the form of trees) that my garden is just not quite equipped for, but I have been absolutely smitten with the wide and colorful smattering of pears and apples that have cropped up at the farmers market.

But the best part? Eggplant! Squash! Corn! Pumpkin! Potatoes! Alright, so those are multiple parts, but they are all equally exciting and the emergence of cooler weather means a BUNCH of new veggies to cook with.

Eep!

I decided to make a dish that would cram in as many autumn veggies as flexibly as possible: Ratatouille


Isn't it pretty?

And to pair it with? Not rice! Not pasta! Not bread!

POLENTA!! It's like the oatmeal of dinner. I absolutely adore polenta.

The ratatouille is a pretty flexible dish. This version is actually more of a ratatouille ni├žoise, but there's no need to get too formal.

The main thing that makes a ratatouille and ratatouille is the tomato and herb base, paired with some combination of squash vegetables, garlic, and onions.

I used eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and carrots, but you could virtually use any type of squash and root vegetable combination.

Beets perhaps?!

Here is a rough recipe (You can cook your polenta according to the directions on the backburner!)

Ratatouille (serves 2)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 big cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium eggplant, cubed
  • 2 small or 1 large zucchini, cubed
  • 4 carrots, chopped or shredded
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 1/2 - 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 large handful fresh basil (chiffonaded)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Begin by caramelizing your onion in the olive oil (medium low heat) in a large skillet. After about 6 or 7 minutes, add in the garlic and saute for a few more minutes.

Add the eggplant, zucchini, carrots and bell peppers along with about 1/4 cup vegetable broth. Stir it all together, turn the heat to low and place a top on. Allow to simmer and the veggies to soften for 6-7 minutes.

After the veggies soften a bit, crank up the heat to medium high and add the rest of the ingredients (except the vegetable broth).

Saute all ingredients together for an additional 6-7 minutes, adding vegetable broth if it gets too dry (but you don't want it to be soupy either!)

What I like to do is, while the Ratatouille is cooking, chop your collard greens and then when the Ratatouille is complete, dump it into a big bowl and use the same pan to cook your collards. They only take a few minutes so just cook em' up and serve both the Ratatouille and the Collards over a big ol' bowl of polenta.

A perfect autumn evening meal!

Enjoy!

Live long and prosper! And enjoy autumn's bounty!

2 comments:

  1. Gosh that looks SO good. Hey every time I carmelize onion it takes 30-60 minutes, what are you doing where it only takes 6 or 7??

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  2. I kind of lie when I say caramelized, Emily. You are right, really caramelizing onions takes anywhere from a half hour to an hour but the main point here is to saute the onions long enough to allow them to start to release their natural sugars which adds a lot of flavor. If you have time to caramelize them fully, by all means do because they are much much better that way, but this is my "cop-out" version of caramelizing :)

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