Notice all of the autumn leaves falling and all of the Halloween decorations out in the stores? It is time to enjoy the last gasp of summer vegetables before we hit our first taste of pumpkins. Right now juicy tomatoes are at their peak, and warm days with thunderstorms are keeping them in full production.
I have re-adapted my homemade Ratatouille recipe to be lower in fat (too many calories in my original recipe from the olive oil). It can be served hot or cold, or even as a topping over fresh hot pasta. Fresh red-skinned potatoes are very abundant this year, so I frequently make my one-dish potato and sausage meal.
1/4 cup good quality olive oil, plus more if needed
4 small eggplants, cubed (leave skin on)
1 medium zucchini, cubed
1 each medium red, yellow and green pepper, seeded and chopped
4 medium onions, diced
10 medium fresh tomatoes, cored and sliced into sections
6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
10 sprigs of fresh thyme roll between your hands to drop seeds
15 small leaves of fresh basil, chopped
2 generous Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Lots of black pepper and 2 tsp. salt
2 patapan squash chopped up, or substitute more zucchini
Balsamic vinegar for topping when serving
Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil to a nonstick skillet (that has a lid) and sauté onions and garlic until soft. Transfer contents to a Dutch oven (that has a lid) and let it rest. Next sauté the eggplant with the fresh thyme in a little olive oil for about 10 minutes until it begins to soften, then transfer this over to Dutch oven.
In the same skillet, sauté peppers/zucchini and squash in a little olive oil and add parsley and basil. Frequently stir and put the lid on and let cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Transfer this to Dutch oven. Add tomatoes. Stir this all up and add salt and lots of pepper. Let this simmer gently on low for about 25 minutes, stirring from time to time. Cover and chill overnight.
Reheat and serve the next day warm or cold, on top of spaghetti, or as a side dish. Adjust seasonings just before serving. Just before serving, add a couple of drops of fresh balsamic vinegar on the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight, as the flavors dramatically improve the next day.
One-Pot Peppers, Potatoes and Sausage
1 lb. baby red potatoes, quartered
2 tsp. olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
14 oz. Italian hot sausage, sliced 1-inch thick
2 medium onions, chopped
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, diced 1-inch squares
1 red bell pepper, diced 1-inch squares
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme (crumble in palms of hands)
2 cups zucchini, 1/2-inch thick and quartered
Wash and microwave potatoes for five minutes in a covered container. Place oil and potatoes in a large, deep non-stick skillet with a tight fitting lid on high heat; season with salt and pepper. When the skillet gets hot and starts to sizzle, reduce heat to low and cook with a tight lid on for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent the potatoes from sticking or burning. Remove from heat and let them sit 5 minutes without removing the lid. Set potatoes aside on a dish.
Add the sausage to the skillet and sauté on medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally until browned but not quite cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season chopped vegetables with salt and pepper. Add onions, peppers, garlic and rosemary to the skillet and mix. Continue cooking stirring occasionally until onions and peppers become slightly browned. Add zucchini and cook an additional 5 minutes, mixing as it cooks until cooked through. Return the potatoes back to the skillet and mix well. Adjust salt and pepper as needed; cover and cook 5 more minutes.
Skillet Kale or Collard Greens
1 lb. Kale (or collard, or Swiss chard can be used)
1 bunch green onions or 1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 c chicken stock
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 to 2 Tbsp. chili/garlic mild hot sauce (Tapatio)
Salt and pepper to taste
Using a large non-stick skillet, with a good-fitting lid, sauté onions and garlic until they just begin to soften. Remove from skillet and set aside. Cut leaves from heavy stems of kale and wash. Cut stems into 1/2-inch thick rounds and wash. In the same skillet, bring stock to a boil and cook stem pieces for 15 minutes until tender. Add kale leaves and cook covered until nearly tender. Add onion and garlic back in and stir. Add vinegar and a tablespoon or two of hot sauce, depending on your taste, and generously salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until most of liquid has evaporated. Serve as a side vegetable with any main course.