"August is the best eating month of year." So said the husband between bites of native corn and a succulent squash saute the other night. I couldn't agree more.
Farmers markets are fairly bursting with the goodness of the earth. The tomatoes are ripe and inviting, the squash more plentiful then anyone can handle, and, really, is there anything better than that first, crisp bite of tender, native corn? I think not.
To honor such bounty, and more particularly the glories of my bro's garden, I cooked up this little saute. Its almost a ratatouille, but not quite.
This zesty side dish comes together in a hurry and features a delicious mix of red onions, shallots, garlic, zucchini, yellow summer squash, red paste tomatoes and a few herbs and spices. Think of this recipe as an outline, merely a suggestion of method and mix, but feel free to jump off at any point and do your own thing. Have a few peppers lying about? Throw them into the mix. Fancy a more traditional ratatouille? Go right ahead and add some eggplant along with the squash. And don't worry your pretty little head about amounts here either - use what you've got, as long as it fresh, and the results are certain to charm.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium red onion, peeled, halved and sliced
- 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and minced
- small pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper
- medium zucchini, washed and sliced
- medium yellow squash, washed and sliced
- 2 medium to large red paste tomatoes (or any variety)
- 1/2 teaspoon (a couple good pinches) herbes de Provence
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup of non-fat low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra if needed
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- some chopped fresh basil and parsley
1. Heat the oil in a large non-reactive skillet over medium-high heat. When it just begins to shimmer, add the shallots, onions and garlic and saute for 2 minutes or so, until the onions soften a bit and become translucent but not yet browned. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and a bit of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Add the zucchini and yellow squash and continue sauteing, stirring often, until the squash picks up some color.
2. Allow the squash to brown slightly, say 4 minutes or so, then add the chopped tomatoes, a few good pinches of herbes de Provence and about 1/8 teaspoon (or more to taste) of smoked paprika. Stir. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and the white wine and allow the mixture to come to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes or so, allowing the flavors to meld.
3. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more of anything you wish. Just before serving, remove from heat and stir in some chopped fresh basil and parsley. Serve and enjoy!
The yield will depend on the size of your produce. In my case, I'd say it served 4, but your amounts may vary.
By all means feel free to dust the finished dish with some freshly shaved Parmesan cheese. And if you'd like a spicier dish, don't be stingy with that smoked paprika. I was going for subtle here, allowing the natural flavor of the veggies to shine through - but if you want to ramp it up a bit, I won't be mad at you.
Lastly, this dish only improves with age. A day or two in the fridge and the left-overs will be even more flavorful. Use them as a simple sauce for some freshly cooked whole wheat pasta and call it dinner.