Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Georgia Summer Ratatouille

On a Saturday in July, we were honored to have Chef John Wolf from the Terrace on Peachtree at the Ellis Hotel giving the Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen cooking demonstrations.

John worked a record number of vegetables and greens from the Edible Garden into a single dish: bell peppers, Malabar spinach, sorrel, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, okra and tomatoes!

In this recipe, Chef John used sorrel, an herb he described as “lemony basil,” “very French” and “old school.” It’s conveniently growing in a planter in the Outdoor Kitchen. If you prefer a thicker green, you might try Malabar spinach.

‘Rosita’ Eggplant, Solanum melongena var. esculentum
Ratatouille is a name for any dish that brings together a wide variety of produce. It does not have to contain a starch; though in this recipe, Israeli (or pearled) couscous is included. For those of you who love eggplant, but find it hard to cook, Chef John recommended using smaller sized eggplant or the thin, Asian variety. There are no seeds, and you can cook them just like you would zucchini.

A youngster checks out an eggplant growing in the Edible Garden.
Georgia Summer Ratatouille

2 tomatoes, small dice
2 bell peppers, small dice
2 small eggplants (preferably Asian or Rosita variety), small dice
2 zucchini or yellow squash, small dice
6 okra, sliced into rounds
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch of fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, mint, thyme, or tarragon (or a mix), roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a small amount of oil in sauté pan until smoking, add okra first and quickly sauté until caramelized.
2. Add tomatoes, peppers, and garlic, cook for two minutes to allow peppers to soften and tomatoes to release their liquid. Do not allow garlic to burn.
3. Add in eggplant and squash, allow to cook for one minute then take off of heat and allow the dish to finish in the residual heat so the squash and eggplant are not overcooked and retain their texture.
4. Season the dish to your liking and add in the fresh herbs. Toss and serve over a salad or a starch such as rice or couscous.

Recipe by Chef Jon Wolf, Terrace on Peachtree

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