Summer Things

I’m sitting here, curled up on the sofa with a fuzzy blanket, eating a warm and comforting bowl of chili.  We didn’t lose power as expected, but still, this storm has propelled me into fall behaviour.  Clearly, while I was busy picking paint colors for the hallway and perusing catalogues for dining room chairs, and imagining ways to rework the landscaping in our new backyard, summer happened.  And now it’s almost over.  Next weekend marks the unofficial official end of the season, and I’m not ready.

I’m still hooked on zucchini, and craving corn.  I guess I need to cram as much summer flavor as I can into the coming days.  In case you’re feeling the same way, below are some of my favorite summer recipes, worthy of one last hurrah, and also lovely additions to a Labor Day BBQ spread.

zucchini and eggplant stew

Easy Ratatouille

Perfect for using up those summer veggies,  this simple ratatouille is delicious over grilled chicken or fish, and wonderful at room temperature tossed with cooked pasta for a veggie-filled pasta salad.

watermelon juice drink

Watermelon Basil Martini

Pretty and pink!  This refreshing summer drink is fantastic for a labor day BBQ. You can make a big pitcher and let your guests help themselves.

chocolate malt

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Malt

To me, malts and milkshakes scream summer.  Enjoy a malt from a huge glass with a bendy straw for an old-school treat.  Or try serving them in little shot glasses for a really fun BBQ dessert!

tomato bread salad

Panzanella

I spend August in pursuit of perfect tomatoes. And once those tomatoes arrive, using them in every possible dish becomes my mission!  This simple panzanella salad is lovely and easy and full of fresh flavor.

Published in: on August 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm  Comments (12)  
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Farmer’s Market Ratatouille

  

ratatouille 

It’s not very often that I get up enough chutzpah to contradict Julia Child, but in the case of ratatouille I really have to take a stand.  

zucchini

Photo by Joanna Hamblin

 

Child’s version of ratatouille requires the careful separate cooking of each vegetable, before layering the elements in a casserole for slow simmering.  Now, I have no doubt that this time-consuming stew is lovely, and full of exciting textures.  But if we’re going for authenticity, I have to point out that in all my time in France I never once met any home cook who made ratatouille in this way.  All of the French moms I know simply throw the veggies in a big pot, turn the heat to low, and stir every so often.  That’s it.  In fact, the word ratatouille apparently comes from the French touiller, which means “to stir”.  Yes, stir – not arrange in fussy little layers.  

dedham farmers market tomatoes

Photo by Joanna Hamblin

 

I love our local Dedham Farmer’s Market. Thanks to the farmer’s market manager, Joanna Hamblin (who happens to take some lovely photos), you can see how fantastic our market has been this summer.  The richness of the market is something of a blessing and a curse.  I get so excited about the overflowing stalls of veggies and fruits and jams and breads that I generally come home lugging so much more than Jeff and I can manage to eat in a week.  But ratataouille to the rescue!  I’ve been making huge batches of this stuff. We’ve been having ratatouille with dinner over grilled chicken or on swordfish kebabs, or for a simple lunch with warm pita.  Sometimes I toss it with pasta and a bit of goat cheese, or use it as a filling for omelets.  And lately I’ve been loving ramekins half-filled with ratatouille, topped with an egg, and baked until the white sets.  With a bit of baguette this is just about the best summer meal imaginable.  

farmers market

Photo by Joanna Hamblin

 

If you don’t have herbes de Provence on hand, feel free to use equal amounts of basil, savory, and fennel.  In fact, pretty much anything goes in this forgiving stew.  The recipe is not set in stone, but you can find my favorite version here in this month’s Cozy, Delicious column in the Dedham Transcript, on WickedLocal.com. 

ratatouille 

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