It’s the season when those of us who garden or haunt farmers’ markets are worn out from trying to use up the onslaught of fresh vegetables, from zukes, yellow squash, peppers, eggplants, and herbs. The seemingly endless bounty is far too glorious to resist, but can become daunting to dispatch.
No matter how lush, healthful and carefully prepared, I can’t face another batch of vegetable stew, or ratatouille at the moment! Plus, with the abundance of beautiful baby vegetables around, it would be a shame to chop them up. They just look too enticing presented as is.
Here in Maryland, home-grown tomatoes, from beefsteak to cherry and other baby varieties are now finally inundating many cooks and gardeners. One of my DC cookbook author colleagues, Cathy Barrow, says that she has just canned 40 pounds of tomatoes and will likely have process 150 more pounds over the next couple months! Yikes!
I admit Cathy’s report is making me wish I lived a little closer to her as I mostly have room for only herbs, berries, a couple pots of peppers and cherry tomatoes, and assorted edible flowers in my suburban garden. I must depend on stands and produce markets for tomatoes, though at the moment a number of them has discounted baskets of incredibly red and fragrant, ripe-to-the-point-of-splitting orbs.
After today’s purchases, I’ll doubtless be eating fat, juicy beefsteak tomato sandwiches for lunch for a week! I also adore the chocolate- bronze-tinged tomatoes you see peeking from the wire basket. They are called “black” cherry tomatoes and have an exquisite heirloom tomato taste that even heirloom varieties often can’t match. And the bright yellow-variety I bought, called “golden glow” are the sweetest I have ever tried.
As a rule, I like ratatouille and find it a fine solution to the summer squash and eggplant overload, especially the style of ratatouille that Julia Child preferred. Instead of just simmering all the veggies together, she called for sauteeing the squash and eggplant separately, and readying a simple sauce of the tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and such to dress them with.
But, now, enough is enough! Inspired by an eye-catching assortment of baby veggies I purchased and in desperate need of something totally different–I’ve come up with a new dish. I like to think Julia would enjoy it and hope you will, too!
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
12 each baby zucchini and baby yellow squash (or substitute larger zucchini and squash cut into
4 1/2- inch long and 1/3-inch-thick slices)
1 1/2 cups 2-inch diameter and 1/4-inch thick baby eggplant slices
1 1/2 cups whole 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch cocktail tomatoes, preferably in several colors
1/2 cup sweet pepper chunks (any color), optional
1 1/2 tablespoons mixed fresh chopped herbs, including thyme, oregano, chives and parsley
1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Heat the oil, zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant in a 12-inch (or slightly larger) non-stick skillet over high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 4 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown, blister, and sear. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking, stirring, 3 minutes longer.
Add the herb blend, garlic and salt and pepper and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer until the vegetables are barely cooked through when pierced with a fork; the tomatoes should still be whole or just beginning to split open. Turn off the heat.
Stir in the vinegar and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately, or let cool slightly and serve at room temperature. Makes about 6 servings.
Another post you may like–Summer Vegetable Skillet.