Summer Ratatouille.

The Lighter Side of Ratatouille.

Today we were at the farmer’s market and the produce was outstanding.  It led us to think of how to make a satisfying lunch of a few vegetables. Lately we have found ourselves creating some pretty remarkable dishes using what’s in season and what’s local.  Farmers aren’t given enough credit for their hard work and passion for growing wonderful wholesome food. Thankfully these Two Food Nuts appreciate everything that they put on our plates.

ratatouilleRatatouille is a dish found in Provence. It is a comfort food, made with a tomato base and lots of winter vegetables. It’s the inspiration for this lighter summer version.  Just look at those colors! A few humble ingredients put together with a pinch of love and a few herbs!  I know of a few restaurants that should be jealous of this creation!

The beauty of this dish is it’s simplicity and variety. You can decide what you want to add into it.   Look at what’s in the market and what your family enjoys eating. Go ahead be brave!

To make this a vegetarian dish simply leave out the bacon. There is still so much flavor with just the vegetables.

ratatouille vegetablesFor our Two Food Nuts Summer Ratatouille we used:

This recipe serves two as a main dish or 4 as a side dish.

  • 6 slices of diced bacon to get the party started
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 15 of tiniest potatoes halved or one thinly slice one large potato.
  • 1 Patty Pan Squash sliced
  • 1 large luscious field tomato sliced
  • 2  fresh garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Herb de Provence
  •  A few thyme and oregano sprigs
  • 1/2 of a red chilli finely diced for interest
  • 5-6 leaves of CavoloNero (Italy’s black Cabbage) or baby kale leaves and Greek Feta to finish.
  • Greek Feta to sprinkle on top

Notice there is no salt in this dish. We found the bacon and the Feta provided all the salt that was necessary. The chili brought the mild heat so no pepper was added either!

Begin by putting the bacon and oil in the skillet. Fry on high until the bacon is just beginning to brown. Add the potatoes now, stir to coat with the bacon fat and oil and add a small splash of water. Cover and cook on medium-low to allow the potatoes to soften.

ratatouille flavoringsAfter a few minutes, add the garlic and layer on the vegetables and the herbs and chilli. Cover, increase heat to medium high and allow all the ingredients to soften and the flavors to mingle. This only takes a few minutes but depends on the density of the vegetables used.

ratatouille ingredientsOnce everything has cooked down and  you can see a light broth in the skillet, your Ratatouille is done. Grab a big bowl and some amazing bread to sop  up all those glorious pan juices.

This dish can include other vegetables such a sweet peppers, snow peas, green zucchini, kale, sliced brussels sprouts, mushrooms or rapinni. It’s whatever you love.

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Bacon and Cheese Cauliflower Bake.

Bacon and Cheese Cauliflower Bake, What’s not to Love?

We just happen to love cauliflower. We also think there’s not much that can’t be improved upon by using Bacon and Cheese! So we came up with this side dish that works with just about any meat but to be honest, Elfie eats it as a meal with a salad.  Ok, she doesn’t always eat the salad!

Bacon and cheese CauliflowerThere are a few steps to this dish but it is easy enough for a novice cook to create!

We use our “Crummy Topping” in this dish so just click the link to get to it. It’s a good idea to make the topping as a separate recipe first. Set it aside while you do the rest.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower cut into florets
  • 4 strips thick sliced bacon (or eight regular) cut into Lardon (see image below)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 Chicken stock cube or packet
  • 1 garlic clove minced or grated
  • ½ a fresh grated nutmeg (or ½ tsp ready grated)
  • Salt and  pepper to taste ( see Cooks a Tip below)
  • 2 cups of grated cheese
  • 1 cup of  “Crummy Topping

Cook’s Tip: Use sharp cheeses to give interest to the sauce. We use Feta, Parmesan and aged White Cheddar. You can use whatever you like or have on hand.  No rules here!

Cut the Cauliflower into florets and steam until just tender.

cauliflowerFry the Lardon until crisp, drain off fat.

LardonFried baconGrate the various cheeses

grated cheeseIn a large saucepan melt the butter together with the flour. Stir it into a paste and add the milk all at once.   Whisk the sauce until its nice and thick over medium high heat.

Bacon and cheese sauce Add the stock cube or packet, nutmeg, garlic, bacon, salt, pepper and all the cheese.

Bacon and cheese saucePlace the cauliflower into the sauce and stir it well to incorporate. Spread the mixture into a buttered casserole dish large enough to hold everything.  Spread the Crummy Topping over the casserole and bake at 350F degrees until you can see the cheese sauce bubbling and the Crummy Topping is golden brown.

We hope you’ll give this recipe a try for your next family gathering. We believe it will be as big a hit at your table as it has been at ours!

Bacon and cheese Cauliflower