Monday, August 20, 2007

Tomatoes are in full season

Tomatoes are in full season right now. It is a bit early because (until this past weekend) we had a lack of rain. As many people know, when tomatoes are in season, they are plentiful!

So not only do we use tomatoes now, we also look for ways to preserve some of these tomatoes for later in the year. Pickling, canning, freezing, and drying are all ways to preserve foods and at L’Etoile, we’ve been busy drying tomatoes for use later. If you’d like to dry your own tomatoes here’s a useful site (

Everything you ever wanted to know about the tomato

Garlic is also plentiful right now. Most people don’t know it, but much of the garlic found in grocery stores comes all the way from China. Quite the trip! At the farmers’ market we buy 6 different varieties of locally grown garlic. Garlic is cured (dried) right at the farm – usually they simply let it dry in the sun – so it will last a long time on your shelf. No need to buy garlic grown thousands of miles away when such excellent garlic is grown right here and available at out Dane County Farmers’ Market.

All this talk about tomatoes and garlic has me thinking about ratatouille. (Or maybe it's the new animated movie starring Remy the rat?) In any case, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, garlic, and zucchini are all in season and plentiful at market. Just the time for a quick and easy (and tasty) ratatouille recipe ...


2 sweet red peppers
1 large eggplant
1 green zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 sweet onion
2 large cloves of Rocambole garlic (I like this variety because it has large, easy to peel cloves, and it has a mellow sweet garlic flavor)
2 Heirloom paste tomatoes, like Amish Paste, or you could use a San Marzano
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence (you could use dry, Penzy's has a good one, or you could source out some fresh herbs at market: savory, rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender, chives, parsley. If you use fresh you will need about 3 teaspoons of herbs chopped up.)
1/4 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper


Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick circles and salt them fairly liberally on both sides and let drain in a colander. The salt will pull out the excess water. Set the eggplant aside and cut the onion, summer squash, zucchini and peppers, into a 1/4 inch dice. Finely chop the garlic. For the tomatoes, bring a pot of water to a boil, remove the core and make a small "x" at the other end with a pairing knife. Submerge the tomatoes for about 15 seconds and remove to a bowl of ice water. The skins will come off easily now. After the skins are removed, cut the tomateos in half, remove the seeds, and then cut into a small dice. Then return to the eggplant, it will be soft and pliable, gently squeeze the excess water out and dice. In a large saute pan or iron skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high, then add the garlic and saute briefly. Then add the onions and season with a little salt and pepper. Stir for about 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes and stir until some of the liquid evaporates. Add the rest of the vegetables and the herbs, stir and turn down the heat. Simmer the mixture for about 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. You can serve it with grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with sea salt, or with any grilled meat or fish.

A Quick and Easy Side

If you are thinking that this is a little too involved for you, I love to mix 1 part red wine vinegar and 3 parts extra virgin olive oil. Then slice some great heirloom or cherry tomatoes, and season them with sea salt and pepper. Drizzle a little of the "vinaigrette" over the top. Tear some basil leaves or toss in some arugula and shave some parmesan or pecorino style cheese over the top. You will have a delicious summer side for any meal.


Anonymous John Kovalic said...

I could cry at the state of supermarket garlic. Really I could.

By the way, the Spanish dinner (and wine pairings) last week...just superb.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Eva said...

Tory! I just made some of this myself--with the craziest-looking white eggplants that I found at my neighborhood market. I added extra herbs de provence, and topped my bowl off with salty, salty feta. And now I'm in heaven. It's all in preparation for going to see the Ratatouille movie tonight, which I STILL haven't seen. What a way to get in the mood! Miss you all dearly; keep posting so I can spy and play make-believe about being in the L'* kitchen.

5:44 PM  

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