Farmer's Market season is upon us. I love to wander through the stalls and gather up the scrumptious in season goods. But the best part is coming home and figuring out where the ingredients will lead us. The last two years we've not had many trips to the Farmer's Market. Time and germ restrictions and exhaustion really took the toll on the simple pleasures of life. But... all that is about to change, again. Last week a new Farmer's Market opened in our little town. Both the location and time are so convenient I imagine it will become a regular weekly trip once again. Elisabeth and Carmella joined Allen and I for a little date Friday evening while the other kids made our weekly home made pizza for dinner. In addition to some gourmet pastas we came home with zucchini, spring onions, cabbage, peas and potatoes. A quick stop at our local butcher for some fresh made Italian sausage and I knew something good was in the making.
Now I don't know about you but my cooking is definitely driven by the weather. Last night when it was in the 80's and sunny I was thinking this meal would find its way to the grill Saturday afternoon. Perhaps with some hard rolls thrown in for good measure. However, this morning it was cool and pouring down rain. So when lunch time rolled around I was looking more at an Italian Vegetable soup. But after watching Ratatouille with the kids last night we finally settled on a dish of French Provencal Comfort Food.
In addition to the vegetables from the Farmer's Market I grabbed some garlic, tomatoes and green peppers we had on hand. Alas, we had no egg plant because we ate it for dinner the other evening. The vegetables were cut in half and drizzled with good olive oil and sprinkled with a generous helping of course sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Now this would have been even more flavorful on the grill but who wants to stand in a down pour to grill veggies? So they went under the broiler until they were caramelized on the outside. We turned them over and let the other side caramelize. Please don't rush this. That's where all your flavor comes from. But do keep a close eye on things. Burned is not the same thing as deeply browned. The tomatoes were tossed with fresh basil from my herb garden, olive oil and salt and pepper. These are cooked apart from the other veggies so as not to drown the other vegetables in their liquid. One of the amazing things about a well made Ratatouille is the way all the vegetables simultaneously meld their flavors together while still maintaining all their own characteristics. When the tomatoes were finished I moved them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. When the remaining vegetables were finished they were placed on a cooling rack so as not to steam on the pans. You don't want your veggies mushy... just tender. Then the potatoes were diced and tossed with more olive oil, salt and pepper. These went under the broiler until they were tender and crisp. Turn frequently. Meanwhile, the vegetables were chopped and added to a large bowl. When the potatoes were finished they went into the same bowl. Lastly, the sausage (this is not really a traditional part of ratatouille but it makes my family very happy) was sliced and cooked under the broiler. Once it was browned and cooked through it was also added to the bowl, still warm, to gently reheat the vegetables.