Green tomato ratatouille: A perfect early fall dish
Fall is here, and we are nearing the end of the growing season in Northern Nevada. The temperatures have dipped, and although the forecast predicts a few more warm days, we are now seeing freezing temperatures overnight. So what do we do with all of the green tomatoes still on the vine? There are lots of options out there. Green tomatoes can be eaten raw on a sandwich, in a salsa, chow chow, or cooked. A lot of us enjoy them battered and fried (I can’t think of fried green tomatoes without remembering Fannie Flagg’s wonderful book and its film adaptation, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.) This week, the green tomatoes that we’ll be serving at Gather come from First Fruits Sustainable Farms, a family farm located in Fallon that uses sustainable and organic farming practices. Hopefully you had the pleasure of meeting and buying from them this summer at the Carson Farmers Market. They’re also on Facebook @firstfruitssustainablefarms and on Instagram @firstfruitsfarms.
As the seasons change, our local farmers now have an eclectic mix of late summer and early fall crops, and ratatouille provides a perfect main or side dish that will highlight the best of what the seasonal shift offers. Ratatouille is a Provençal dish that most commonly contains zucchini, eggplant, onion, bell pepper, and tomato, but the basic recipe allows for you to substitute in any vegetable of your choice. The flexibility of the basic ratatouille recipe is perfect for this time of year, as we begin seeing winter squash varieties available alongside late tomato and zucchini crops. I like to add carrot and celery to my ratatouille, because in my opinion, this veggie mix, combined with onion (the classic mixture known as “mirepoix”) makes every savory dish more delicious!
Green Tomato Ratatouille
Serves 4 to 6 Ingredients:
3 to 4 medium green tomatoes
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch rounds
2 celery ribs, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 large bell pepper (any color)
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
2 cloves garlic, rough chopped or minced
1 bay leaf
Handful of fresh Italian parsley, rough chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry red wine (optional)
Ratatouille comes out beautifully in a dutch oven, but if you don’t have one, use any medium to large-sized heavy pot or skillet. On medium-high, heat 1/4-cup of EVOO in your pan. Add the carrot and eggplant and sauté until vegetables are slightly softened (about 10 minutes). Add remaining ingredients, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown. If desired, add about 1/4 cup of red wine and stir thoroughly. The wine will give more depth to the flavor. Turn heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened. Serve immediately.
Angela Bullentini Wolf is Owner/Manager of Gather, a farm to table, fine casual restaurant located at 402 N. Carson St. in downtown Carson City.