CSA Week 12: Last gasps of summer

Week 12 CSA:

-Odd long green eggplant
-Green bell peppers
-Green hot peppers
-Wax beans
-Pattypan (?) squash

Let’s power through some neglected dinners, shall we? First of all, in case we get a last burst of warm weather or you live somewhere that is still getting some heat, panzanella. I’m a huge fan of these bread-based salads, but I’ve always made them in the chunkier style I grew up with. When we were in Italy in May I ate a hot version (papa al pomodoro) and a cold version (panzanella) that were virtually identical, both with a smooth texture and great olive oil flavor.

The hot version (Tuscany):

The cold version (Rome):

I wasn’t using a recipe, and next time I’ll work harder at getting a velvety texture (I didn’t even bother to take some of the crusts off the bread!). I took bread, tomatoes, olive oil, basil and some shallot:

Tore up the bread and added the shallot, salt and pepper:

And the tomatoes (and basil):

Mixed it all up (really smooshing with my hands) and let it sit for an hour or two.

Before serving I looked at that bowl of mush and decided to follow the lead of the Roman restaurant. I packed it into a ramekin and tipped it out (quickly) onto the plate, then finished with olive oil and basil. Not bad, for a first attempt! Before all the good tomatoes are gone I want to try the hot version; I found a recipe in Jamie’s Italy.

The weather started to cool off late in August, and with my eggplant, tomato, squash and beans I thought I’d make a vegetable stew in the ratatouille family. I had small specimens of a variety of things, so this was a bit of a toss-it-in-and-see-if-it-works experiment.

I go through mountains of onions and garlic!

Since I had fresh oregano, I tried frying a few sprigs in the oil to flavor it before I added my onions. I don’t know that it made any difference, but oh well!

When the onions and garlic were softened, I added in the eggplant (I think it was eggplant!):

Then my lone tomato:

I splashed in some chicken broth and a squeeze of tomato paste and got everything simmering. In went those lovely albino squash, which are pattypan in shape but came in very giant sizes (I picked little ones):

You can see the results of laziness in that photo: I hadn’t peeled the eggplant or tomato, and as they cooked the skins began to peel off. I picked a bunch out but next time I will peel first. I cooked the stew until everything was tender, and then pulled it off the heat because Ben was running late. A little while before we were ready to eat, I put the pot back on the stove, and stirred in the beans.

Pretty, pretty beans!

So pretty!

What? You are waiting for the stew itself? Weeeelllllllll, it’s full of eggplant (which turns brown and sludgy) and tomato, coloring everything. In short, it looks like hell. But fine. Oh, I threw in basil.

Served over nice bread, toasted with a bit of parm and drizzled with olive oil.

Hideous, but satisfying.

I’m hitting the road tomorrow for a wedding, but I’ve got a few more end-of-summer things to share! Also, thanks to the lovely Amy for another shout-out, this time in her amazing “Living In” column on Design*Sponge!

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