While I love the smell of freshly turned earth, spring onions and the emergence of tiny seedlings, Fall is actually my favourite season in the garden. That’s harvest time and where the efforts of the spring and summer come to fruition. Literally.
I love eating seasonally but I’m a canner and put away veggies in the forms of spaghetti sauce, eggplant caponata, pickles and salsas all summer long. I love filling up my freezer and my pantry shelves with foods that I create and that I know my
family will enjoy.
BUT (and this is the big “but”) no matter how much I serve and stash away, I ALWAYS celebrate the bounty of my annual garden with an old fave. Here’s to an abundance of squash, eggplant, ripe tomato, herbs, onions. I give you: Ratatouille.
I served this recipe annually at Corner Wine Bar. After simmering a cacophony of veggie goodness, we’d pile it into a toasted sourdough bread boule, top it with a bit of shredded Parmesan and fresh basil. Hearty, a gorgeous meal and brimming with the bounty of the season. Ratatouille is a bright and chunky vegetable stew.
One large eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 T olive oil
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 yellow squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 each of red, orange and yellow bell pepper, chopped
5 large cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
2# fresh, ripe tomato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small can of tomato paste
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped for garnish
Shredded Parmesan cheese, optional for garnish
Plenty of salt and pepper, to your taste
Heat olive oil in a large stockpot. Add eggplant and cook until it begins to brown, stirring constantly. Add onion and continue to cook over medium until the onion becomes translucent.
Next, add the squash, carrots, bell peppers. Continue to cook, over medium heat, stirring for about four minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, stirring periodically until the stew comes to a gentle boil. At this point, reduce heat to low and simmer until all veggies are tender, about 25 minutes.
You can cool the stew and chill it to reheat later, but I prefer to serve it hot.
It is excellent ladled over a buttered baked potato Or served in a hollowed out and toasted bread boule.
Either way is fantastic, but be sure to drizzle a bit more olive oil over the top, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Pro Tip: This dish is very freezer friendly. After it has cooled completely, freeze it in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to three months.
Elizabeth Morse cooks professionally, is an Advanced Master Gardener and lover of all things local.