tomatoes

Farewell Summer Ratatouille

Fall is undeniably my favorite season in terms of weather, cozy clothing, and hot beverages, but it’s tough to beat summer produce! As we speed through September, I wanted to give summer’s bounty one final hurrah, but with using my go-to fall kitchen appliance- my slow cooker.

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Danny and I are leaving for Italy at the end of the week, so I wanted work lunches to be prepped as much as possible because I knew evenings would be a flurry of last minute planning and packing. So, while football was playing in the background, I dusted off my slow cooker (or crock pot, as others may know it) and tossed in the easiest “farewell summer” ratatouille.

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I plan to serve this alongside different grains (quinoa or farro most likely), with a new protein each day to beat boredom (I have some frozen shrimp and garbanzo beans that would both work well I think). You could certainly dress it up each day with a new flavor too- add olives, capers, or cheese to keep things interesting!

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Are you ready for fall or hanging on to summer?


Farewell Summer Ratatouille- serves 3

Ingredients

  • 2 small Italian eggplants

  • 1 yellow squash

  • 1 zucchini

  • 1 red and 1 orange bell pepper

  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

  • 1 tbsp dried basil

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Cut all vegetables (minus tomatoes) into small 1-inch cubes. You want them to all be about the same size so that they cook evenly. Add all prepped vegetables and tomatoes to slow cooker.

  2. To vegetables, add tomato paste, olive oil, basil, and salt. Use hands or a large spoon to toss everything together until all ingredients are mixed well.

  3. Cook on the HIGH setting for 4 hours.

  4. Once finished, remove cooked vegetables with a slotted spoon as a lot of liquid will have been released during cooking. Serve right away or store in glass container and add to lunches throughout the week.

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A Summertime Meal

Living in New York City means that opportunities for grilling and dining al fresco in the comfort of your own home are rare if not non-existent. So, when traveling home to the Northern Kentucky area over a gloriously sunny weekend in June, I took full advantage and enjoyed a meal that included all of the above, local produce, and great company of family.

I can't take credit for the recipes that constructed this meal, but the combination of entree, side dish, and salad were perfection and I felt it was a summertime menu worth sharing. Sometimes the hardest part is picking out two or three recipes that go together for a meal, so I hope I've helped do some of the meal planning for you, allowing you to enjoy a warm summer night.

A Summertime Menu

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Entree: Spice Salmon Kebabs from Bon Appetit. While we didn't find the double skewer trick very helpful, these kebabs were packed with bright, yet spicy flavors. A grill is a non-negotiable for nailing the smoky salmon notes. Plus, the nutrition can't be beat- lean, filling protein, and healthy, skin-glowing fats, dressed up with natural seasonings.

Side: Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes from Smitten Kitchen. My mother was blessed with a bounty of tomatoes from a friend's garden, so these bright red beauties needed to be shown off! I had made these tomatoes once before for myself thinking Mr. CN would not be into them, but I was happy that this simplistic side was now enjoyed by my him and even my tomato-averse father. This makes for a grain-centric side dish that is also very veggie-forward.

Salad: Mama Nutritious' Special Salad from her own genius brain. My mom is always asked to bring her salads to family get togethers. They must be elevated and complex, right? No! She simply grabs  various greens (arugula, mesclun, and pea shoots shown here) and a mixture of toppings (cranberries, feta, and maracona almonds in this one), tossing it all together in a bowl with a dressing of EVOO, lemon juice, usually dijon, garlic, and s&p that she shakes up in a mason jar. Voila! Getting in your veggies is all about preparing them in ways that please your own taste buds- if you don't enjoy the selections or flavors you'll be hard pressed to include them in your daily diet.

What are your favorite summer meals?