Musings From MommyLand

Because sometimes there is more to Mommy…

Seasonal Veggies and Ratatouille Boats

on September 12, 2012

I love late summer!  And the main reason for this are all of the amazing fruits and veggies that are now ripe and ready to eat.  Recently, it has become a favorite family activity to head over to our local farmer’s market on Saturday morning and stock up on fresh produce for the week.  These last few weeks, everything has been so beautiful and delicious and this has sort of inspired me to find recipes for what is now in season.  So over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some of these and hopefully give you some inspiration for the last couple of weeks of whatever is in season for you.

The hubby and I celebrated our anniversary last month and as it fell on a weeknight this year, we went sort of low-key and I just made a nice dinner at home.  I knew I was going to make something Italian (that always seems to feel more upscale doesn’t it?) and settled on manicotti.  Then I started waffling on what side dishes to go with it.  Do I do the normal salad or do I do some sort of veggie?  And if it is a veggie then what goes well with what I am making?  Way too much over-thinking on my part.  This question was still unresolved  when we hit up one of our local farmer’s markets the weekend before our anniversary and once we started walking around, inspiration struck and I knew what exactly what side I wanted to make.  Ratatouille Boats!

What you need:

  • 1 zucchini per each 2 people  you are cooking for (unless they are really long and then you can cut them in half and get four “boats” from each one)
  • 1-2 yellow squash
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 2 fresh tomatoes of any variety
  • 2 cups Mozzarella cheese
  • Seasonings (Salt, pepper, red pepper flake, garlic)
  • Olive oil and butter

First you need to slice the zucchini in half  to make 2 “boats”.  Take these and slice just a little sliver off of the bottom of them so they sit flat and won’t roll over once they are filled.  After they sit flat, hollow them out.  Just use a spoon to sort of scrape out the insides.  Try to scrape out big chunks if you are able because you will be using this in the ratatouille mix in a bit.  Once they are hollowed out, coat lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Flip these over and place them on a cookie sheet and then in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.  You flip them over so the steam get trapped in the canoe part and helps them cook.  Check on them regularly, you want to give them a head-start on the cooking process but you don’t want them to get so mushy/floppy that they can’t hold the ratatouille mixture.

While the “boats” are in the oven, take the rest of your veggies and give them a small dice.  Your veggie ratio depends on your own tastes.  I only use half of an eggplant and more yellow squash because I like it more.  Your veggie dice should also include the scooped out insides of your zucchini.  I like to get mine pretty small because they fit better in the boat.  Whatever size dice you decided to go with, just make sure that each veggie is the same size.  A one inch eggplant cube and a 1/2 inch yellow squash cube aren’t going to turn out as good both in terms of texture and cooking time.  Also, with the tomato, when you are cutting it, make sure to de-seed them.  Basically, just get rid of the seedy goo because that will add unwanted mush to your mix.

Once you have all your veggies cut, add three to four tablespoons of butter to a pan and let that melt down for a minute.  once the butter is hot, add the eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash to the pan.  Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic (fresh or dried, powder or minced, whatever you prefer).  Sautee this for a few minutes until it is just starting to get soft and then add the tomatoes.  They really don’t take any time to cook so they go in last.  Once this mixture is almost as cooked through as you like it (only you know if you like your squash on the softer or firmer side), spoon it into the zucchini boats.  You may have some leftover but I promise, it is just a good to eat on its own even without the “boat”

Fill the boats, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, and put them back in the oven for another 10 or so minutes until they are finished cooking and the cheese has melted and Voila!  You have an easy, beautiful, seasonal side dish.

As a side to the Manicotti

Happy Cooking!!

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One response to “Seasonal Veggies and Ratatouille Boats

  1. mlhouse says:

    Looks amazing!!!

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