There comes a weekend night in late summer when the chill sets in and we close the windows for the first time since early June. We don forgotten sweaters or sweatshirts and throw a quilt on the bed. My husband tunes in the Green Bay Packers game and I settle down with the September issue of Vogue or a good mystery.
It's ratatouille time. Saturday night, I made a skillet version of my favorite dish. In the oven was a whole chicken stuffed with garlic, onion, rosemary and thyme. Rice from the Camargue was baking in a sauce of tomatoes and herbes de Provence. So I sliced my vegetables and sauteed them in a skillet.
Ratatouille in the Skillet
1 small eggplant
dash sea salt with herbes de Provence
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small zuchinni
1 small summer squash
2-3 small peppers, red or green
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 small can diced tomatoes
Wash and slice, but do not peel the eggplant. Strive for uniform size pieces. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt and herbes. Cover and set aside for an hour or so until water drains from the eggplant.
Slice the zuchinni, squash and peppers, too. Sauté each, one at a time, in olive oil. Sauté only until eacg vegetable begins to turn golden brown. Set aside. Slice onions and mince garlic and do the same with these. Set aside. Finally, drain the eggplant and add it to the pan. Return onion, garlic, zuchinni, squash and peppers to the pan. Add diced tomatoes and allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Season with additional herbes de Provence, sea salt and pepper, if you like.
My husband noticed that the tomatoes took on new flavors from the vegetables.
The entire meal, which was preceded by a simple salad of cherry tomatoes and lettuce, tasted of autumn on the rise and hinted of the Midi.
I often think of ratatouille as a transitional dish, one that is best savored as summer wanes and fall begins to show its burnished colors. It was the perfect meal on a dark and chilly August night.