I love late summer. A lightly-cooked ratatouille; frenched romano beans with a loose tapenade-ish relish of chopped kalamatas, capers, and lemon; frisée from the garden with goat cheese and pine nuts; good new bread baked by T earlier in the day to sop up runny juices. Ahhhhh.
The romanos are turning out to be quite prolific, despite their toppled-over trellis. We’re collecting more than we can eat, so - pickled beans, one jar with lemon and rosemary and the other with lemon and coriander. Both spicy. They are sort of an experiment - we’ll see.
Late Summer Ratatouille
This lightly cooked, still-pretty ratatouille borrows from Julia Child’s recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, simplified with the shortcuts that height-of-season vegetables let you take - tiny Thai eggplants and small, tender summer squash need no salting. And we are not Russian aristocrats dining during the dying days of the tsars or anything, so I generally don’t feel the need to skin tomatoes.
Gather equal weights of very good paste tomatoes; small, tender summer squash (we mixed pattypan, crookneck, and zucchini); and small eggplants - we used about a pound each. Slice squash and eggplant into 3/8” slices and quarter tomatoes. Cut an onion and a red bell pepper into thin slices; chop a clove of garlic, and chop some parsley.
Warm a film of olive oil in a skillet. Brown the eggplant and squash slices lightly; salt and pepper; set aside. Add oil if necessary; turn down the heat, and sweat the onion and pepper thoroughly. Stir in the garlic and add the tomato pieces on top, cut sides down; cover and cook for five minutes. Salt and pepper; set aside.
Add a little more olive oil. Spread a third of the tomato-pepper mixture in the bottom of the skillet and add a palmful of parsley; now an eggplant layer; another third of the tomatoes and parsley; a layer of squash; finish with the last of the tomatoes. Cover and cook over low heat for fifteen minutes or so; uncover and cook for a few minutes more, just long enough for the juices to cook down to a concentrated puddle in the bottom of the pan. Scatter basil on top; eat hot, warm, or cold, with plenty of good bread.
A pound of beans for Bob and Jane; another pound and a half for us. A half pound of Juliets and a half pound of romas. And the arugula is getting close.