By JAN MAIN
September brings to mind two things: going back to school (packing lunches) and farmer’s markets (our harvest) Of course, for me, both of these are associated with food.
Let’s talk about the first – packing lunches. Gone are the carefree summer days when you can slice a fat home grown tomato, put it on a piece of crusty bread liberally spread with mayo to enjoy outside in the sunshine and call it lunch. Now, you have to plan and pack!
The second, farmer’s markets, are associated with pure pleasure. A visit to one of our many markets brimming with bountiful, beautiful produce feels like a mini holiday as you stroll past vendors stalls bursting with produce: fruit, vegetables, flowers and baking. The following recipes are the product of our abundance which can be packed into a tasty autumn lunch.
In Jean Talon market in Montreal, an enterprising farmer had packed tantalizing baskets with eggplant, zucchini, fresh garlic, onions, basil and tomatoes as the vibrant ingredients for ratatouille. This vegetable stew, originally from the south of France, can be served hot as a main course over pasta or with hot as a vegetable with a roast for dinner or chilled as a salad. It is perfect for lunch, a reminder of hot summer days. For best flavour, be sure to choose a small eggplant, free of blemishes with a smooth, firm, shiny, dark purple skin.
1/2 cup (125 mL) olive oil
2 onions, diced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
4-6 fresh tomatoes, blanched, skin removed and chopped (Substitute 1 28oz/796mL) can chopped tomatoes
1 eggplant, skin on cut into (1/2 inch /1 cm) cubes
2 small zucchinis, sliced 1/2 inch (1 cm)
2 peppers, 1 green and yellow, red or orange, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar
1 tbsp dried basil (1/4 tbsp if minced fresh)
1 tsp (5 mL) dried oregano (3 tsp if chopped fresh)
1/2 cup (125 mL chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) fresh black pepper
In a large saucepan heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, cook covered about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, sugar, basil, and oregano. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in parsley salt and pepper. Taste. Adjust seasoning. Serves 4 to 6.
Oven Roasted Vegetables
Roasted vegetables are yummy, even ones you think you don’t like. They are the perfect dish for Thanksgiving when you may have a crowd of people. Make a huge pan because they shrink and are so good you will find yourself eating them before serving others. Best of all, they are equally tasty the next day served cold as a salad with a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of goat cheese if you wish.
The following vegetables are only suggestions. You can substitute others that you have on hand. It is a great way of using up vegetables in the fridge such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, squash or fennel.
2 peppers, red, green, yellow or orange
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/4 inch (1 cm) crosswise
2 onions, sliced
2 zucchinis, (one summer and one green) sliced crosswise
2 cup (500 mL) mushrooms, cremini or white, button or sliced large
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup (50 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) each, sea salt and fresh black pepper. herbs if you like
Balsamic vinegar and /or goat cheese (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 425 (220 C). Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine peppers, sweet potatoes, onions, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic, Sprinkle with oil, salt, pepper and herbs if using and toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet.
Bake 20 minutes; remove and stir. Reduce heat to 400 C (200 C). then return to oven for an additional 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Transfer to a serving platter. If you wish, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and crumbled goat cheese before serving. Makes about 4 servings.