Monday, August 25, 2008
The trip to the farmer's market this week produced a bumper crop of great stuff, including a few delicious "eight ball" zucchini, and one of my very favorite summer delicacies -- fairytale eggplants.
These purple beauties are not only cute as a button (measuring an inch or two long, and about 1/2 inch at their widest point), but they cook up like butter. One of my favorite things to do is to pop their stems off and roast (or grill) them.
In this particular case, we were experiencing a bit of a break from the summer heat. And I was brainstorming how to use some of the farmer's market vegetables in conjunction with some chicken pieces I had thawing in the refrigerator. I was craving comfort food, and I happened to have a couple of sweet peppers available out of my own garden, so my first impulse was to make a cacciatore. But, a better plan seemed to be to take the zucchini and eggplant and throw them together into a summer ratatouille.
The more I thought about it, the more I wondered what it would be like if I simply combined the two recipes into something completely different.
So, I took the vegetables and roasted them up nice and tender. And I threw together a chunky tomato sauce, fortified with sweet peppers, onions, and a liberal dose of red wine. Add to that a bit of herbs de provence (central to a good ratatouille)... and put the chicken on to simmer. When the chicken was tender, I tossed the reduced sauce with the roasted vegetables and called it dinner.
The resulting dish was far better than the sum of its parts. Succulent stewed chicken, tender-crisp summer vegetables, and a sauce riddled with wine and herbs.
This caccia-touille was one of the best things we've tasted in a very long time.
And we'll share. Cuz we're nice people that way!
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