It's getting to be that time of year again -- the time when we can go to the farmer's market and get ridiculous quantities of tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, and the other vegetables of high summer for what seems like almost no money at all. Here are a few recipes from the past that make great use of this bounty: Ratatouille.
This is, of course, an obvious one, but this version is -- to my mind, anyway -- particularly good. The vegetables strike the right balance of melding together and keeping their integrity. You do have to turn on the oven and turn on the burners (oof, hot!) but the advantage is that you don't have to spend ages sauteeing each vegetable in turn. This means things move more quickly and you have to spend less time hovering over the hot stove in question, for a net win on the hot-and-sticky axis.
Frittata with zucchini and ricotta. This is so good that I have been known to buy zucchini out of season in order to make it.
Summer squash gratin. For when you have more summer squash than these other recipes can absorb. It's simple and savory, and pleasantly not-soggy. I think it's nice to save yellow squash for this one and use green zucchini for the frittata.
Tomato salad. Well, obviously.
Ajvar. This is a green vegetable concoction in rough puree, not the smooth sludgy red stuff I've seen in jars at the grocery store. It's made with eggplant and green peppers, and lots of olive oil. It's spectacular, and one of the few things that actually makes me eager to buy green peppers (I generally prefer red). I see that I never did give a recipe for it, and I think I've made enough little tweaks to the original Paula Wolfert recipe by now that I feel comfortable writing it up here. I'll put it at the end of this entry.
Meanwhile, I'm eager to make one or the other of these gazpacho recipes from Lobstersquad -- or both! But first I need to buy a pitcher to put it in, which is something I'm long overdue to do anyhow. This skillet corn from my own mama's website looks fantastic, too. What summer vegetable dishes are you making?
Eggplant or eggplants to make up just over a pound -- one eggplant is easiest
4 Anaheim peppers or other green chiles of medium heat
1 green bell pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped very very fine
2 T. grated onion
Juice of one lemon (between 2 and 3 T. of juice)
6 T. olive oil
Preheat oven to 375° F. Pierce eggplant with a fork and put on a baking sheet with both the green pepper and the Anaheims. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove eggplant and turn the peppers over.
While the peppers finish cooking (about 20 minutes more), turn one of your burners (preferably gas) to high. Grip the eggplant in long-handled tongs and toast it over this flame, turning fairly often, until the skin is black and blistered. Set aside.
Remove peppers from oven and cover with a tea towel until cool.
When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, rub the charred skin off under running water and squeeze gently to get rid of some of the bitter juices. Chop fine.
Slip the skins off the peppers, and remove stems, cores, and seeds. Running water may help with this as well. Chop fine and mix with eggplant in a large bowl.
Add the garlic, onion, and lemon juice, and then stir in the oil one tablespoon at a time. It's important to get each tablespoon incorporated fully before you add the next one. Season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to jars or some other smaller container. Chill. This is superb on toasted bread or a cracker, with cheese or frittata, or as part of an antipasto plate.