Summer bounty... my fave.
I haven't been around much, so first of all, I must apologize. But I promise it has been for good cause; the farm is absolutely kicking ass. We've got more zucchini than you can shake a stick at (and I've shaken a lot of sticks at them let me tell you), basil bushes the size of pre-teens, pole beans just begging for another foot of trellis so they can plow further skyward. It is an absolutely wondrous thing of beauty, and we spend an embarrassing amount of time just strolling through the rows, winding vines on stakes and peeking under leaves, giggling while shouting what we've found to each other across the fields. I love how the cars on the road slow as they pass, how the passengers faces break into smiles as they point at all our hard work.
This is not to say everything has gone perfectly. Apparently the entire Collin County blister beetle population had never experienced the culinary foodgasm that is our potato plant foliage, so they dropped in and called aaaaaall their friends. Farmer Dad and I bravely fought the bastards for weeks before conceding yesterday... about four weeks shy of full growth. There ought to be some new potatoes under there, so all is not lost, but you won't be seeing Pure Land Organic potatoes next year, that's fo sho. Win some, lose some.
There are as many ways to make ratatouille as there are French people in France, but this is how I do it. I go for "easy". You can use any summer vegetables you like, but I'm sure you won't have trouble finding the canonical ones in any farmer's market this time of year. Unfortunately, eggplants have had a really hard time at the farm... they're just a magnet for the indigenous pests out there. It's a good thing the Japanese eggplants in my garden are producing like gangbusters, so this is still an all self-grown recipe. Just don't look for eggplants on our table at Saint Michaels farmer's market on Saturday morning. You are coming to the farmer's market, aren't you? I have an enormous zucchini to sell you.
This is of course infinitely adaptable, so I'll just post exactly what I did based off the inspiring recipe. You do what you like, you are the boss of you.
2 large Japanese eggplants, diced
1 onion, diced
2 large zucchini, diced
3 small yellow crookneck squash, diced
3 small bell peppers, diced
few Hungarian hot wax peppers, seeds and stem removed, diced
12-15 medium sweet very ripe tomatoes, halved and cored
3 cloves garlic, minced
few sprigs thyme
few leaves basil, julienned
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. I know that's crazy in this heat, so next time I might grill everything instead. If you do that, tell me how it goes.
Toss the eggplants and onions with a good glug of extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Spread in a single layer on a foil-wrapped baking sheet (for easy cleanup) and pop into the oven for about fifteen minutes. Pull the pan back out and add the zucchini, yellow squash, and peppers. If you need to go to two baking sheets at this point, feel free. It's better than crowding the one sheet. Pop back into the oven for another 20 minutes, or until all of the veggies are soft and have browned in places.
The tomatoes you can do in a few ways. I used a food mill, because I have one. Place your food mill over a bowl and mash the tomatoes through (according to your manufacturer's directions) until you have all the lovely wonderful pulp and juice in the bowl, and all the awful seeds and skins up in the mill. Maximum efficiency. If I didn't have a food mill, I'd have squeezed the seeds out of the halved tomatoes, placed them cut-side down on another baking sheet and into the oven for 10 minutes or so, until the skins could easily be pinched off, then proceeded as usual. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large heavy pot and add the garlic, sautéing until it becomes aromatic. Add all the tomato juice and pulp, thyme, and a good pinch of kosher salt and allow to cook for about 20 minutes, adding a cover to the pot once it becomes thick like marinara. I just add the thyme sprigs whole and fish out the twigs when it's done. Bash them with a wooden spoon in the pot to get the little leaves off. Turn off the heat and sprinkle in the basil.
When your vegetables are done, stir them through the tomato sauce and taste, adjusting the seasoning if necessary. Serve over pasta or with fresh crusty bread. Summer in a bowl y'all.
Serves 6-8, takes an hour or so.