End of Summer Bounty

See ya, Summer!

I'm sorry to break it to you, but this summer was not that great, and I will be very happy, thrilled even, to see Autumn take its place next week. The weather was horrible and very un-summerlike here on the East Coast. It was muggy and cloudy for days, and then there was a heatwave or three. It also rained quite a bit, usually on the weekends. (Of course!) We didn't make one trip down to the shore this year, which is sad because it's a short drive away. But, we'll always have Paris, so I can't complain too much. And, if there is one good thing about this time of year, it's that my favorite kitchen staples like eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes are plentiful and delicious, which means I can make lots of great meals without a lot of fuss.

From mid-August through the end of September, Chez Gourmess is home to heaping plates of ratatouille (my favorite summer dish); thick slices of toasted homemade bread topped with goat cheese and a flavorful summer vegetable spread; stuffed to the brim casserole dishes of rich summer lasagna with layers of eggplant, zucchini, shredded chicken and mozzarella; bowls of pasta tossed with a summer veggie sauce, olives, and Romano cheese; and tasty homemade pizzas topped with basil from the garden, roasted eggplant, and tomatoes.

Ratatouille was one of the first dishes I learned to make
when I was teaching myself the FCI textbook in 2010.
I've been making it ever since -- even on TV!
Now that we've hit the prime time for these treats, every week or so I fill my dutch oven to the top with minced herbs (parsley and basil from the garden), diced eggplant, zucchini (yellow and green), half a dozen ripe tomatoes (seeded and peeled), colorful bell peppers, a few cloves of garlic (minced) and olive oil (1/4 cup or so), and cover/let it simmer for about an hour or so, stirring every once in awhile. When it's done, I season with a bit of salt and pepper, and it's ready for use in all of my favorite dishes. I can add chicken broth for a lovely vegetable soup; blend it into a creamy dip/sandwich spread; top pizzas; fill lasagnas; stir into pastas; add to scrambled eggs; brighten up burgers -- you name it. And, if there's any left, I just eat it right out of the container, using a piece of crusty bread as my fork. Dee-lish!

And for that, Summer, I salute you.

Some Recent End of Summer Treasures:

Lasagna with layers of the eggplant/pepper/zucchini/tomato mixture, shredded chicken with chopped basil, and a cheesy filling of Greek yogurt (instead of ricotta), shredded mozzarella, garlic and herbs.

A tasty dip of my eggplant/pepper/zucchini/tomato mixture blended with mustard, vinegar, red pepper flakes, fresh herbs, and a wee dollop of mayo. Great on sandwiches, too.

Other Favorites:
Farfalle pasta with eggplant, zucchini, tomato and smoked mozzarella make this easy, smoky dish one that you'll want to keep handy all year.

Pizza! Pizza!  Eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes make the tastiest toppings ever. Add some cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, and you're done. 

What are you making with the late summer bounty?