Simple Art of Cooking: The East End’s Fall Bounty on Your Plate

grilled vegetable ratatouille
Ratatouille. Photo credit: Stock/Thinkstock

It’s so easy to dive into the wonderful world of vegetables and fruits with the bounty of produce overflowing at our East End farm stands—I hardly know where to begin and just want to cook everything!

One place to begin is with the following recipes.

Happy harvest!

A classic ratatouille is prepared with a variety of vegetables and can be served warm or at room temperature. Ratatouille can also be served over pasta, rice or couscous.

Serves 6 to 8

2 medium eggplants, about 1 1/4 pounds
kosher salt
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, halved, seeded and ribbed
2 narrow zucchini, scrubbed, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and shredded*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup julienne of fresh basil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 400°F.

1. Slice the eggplant into rounds, about 1/2 inch thick. Place in a colander, lightly salt the layers; cover with paper towel and weight down to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Place eggplant slices in a bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons oil to coat. Arrange slices in one layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes on each side.

2. Meanwhile, warm remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet. Put in the onions, toss to coat in the oil and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the peppers and zucchini and sauté for 5 minutes, tossing the vegetables occasionally. Add tomatoes and seasonings: stir to mix; then cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Taste to adjust seasonings as necessary. Remove bay leaf.

3. With slotted spoon, transfer cooked vegetables to a shallow earthenware casserole. Reduce any remaining liquid in the skillet and simmer briskly until light syrup then pour it back over the vegetables. Can be made ahead to this point and reheated or served at room temperature.

*Submerge tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon and when cool enough to handle slip off the skins with the tip of a paring knife. Cut in half crosswise, hold each half in the palm of your hand and gently squeeze out the seeds. Chop or shred coarsely.

Broccoli rabe and sausage are a classic combination. This a complete and tasty do-ahead meal.

Serves 4

2 bunches broccoli rabe or head broccoli
4 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Trim the broccoli rabe, discarding the tough bottom stems. Separate the leaves from the flowerets and place them in two separate bowls of cold water to soak for 15 minutes. (If cooking standard broccoli, separate florets and blanch in boiling salted water for 2 minutes and drain.) Meanwhile for the rabe, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Drain the leaves and put into the boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes and add the drained flowers. Cook for 1 minute longer and, with a large slotted spoon, remove greens to a colander to drain, reserving the cooking water. Put potato slices in the same water the broccoli rabe cooked in and cook at a brisk simmer, covered for about 15 to 18 minutes until tender but not falling apart.

2. Meanwhile, warm oil in a large skillet and add garlic cloves. Sauté for 2 to 3 minute. Add sausage meat and cook breaking up the sausage with the back of a fork until crumbly. Cook until the sausage loses its red color, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add chicken broth and pepper flakes and bring to the boil. Place the broccoli rabe, or broccoli, over the sausage and season with salt and pepper.  Layer the potato slices over the greens and add seasonings to taste. Cover pan and simmer over low heat for 6 to 8 minutes to heat the mixture through. Can be prepared several hours ahead; then warm over low heat. Serve hot. 

More from Our Sister Sites