Saturday, July 25, 2015

Harvest Fever

Everyone goes crazy at the sight of veggies right now. Both professional chefs and novice home ones burst with excitement at a garden bursting with tomatoes or a farmer's market offering a wide array of just picked anything. This is harvest fever and it causes us to overbuy. The question is what do we do with a kitchen full of vegetables?Use them or lose them.

One of the biggest mistake any novice makes is overbuying or picking the backyard plots bare. It is exciting to get our creative hands on nature's beauties and we're anxious to try out all recipes .However  keep in mind that veggies can go bad quickly and they need to be eaten within a week.Corn should be cooked right away otherwise the sugar in the kernels builds up and toughens the ears.Cucumbers have only two days before they go bad. Eggplants and most lettuces are the same too. Tomatoes and peppers, those staples of summer cooking, have a three day period before souring. Onions and garlic have a week before turning however both can sometimes go longer ,lasting up to two weeks. Be judicious with what you buy. Do  you really need a bushel of tomatoes or ten ears of corn? Plan the dish you want to make, write down the exact amounts of veggies needed and buy that amount. That saves on overage and wasted produce.

Now the question - what to make? .Beginners should stick with something simple such as my family's variation of ratatouille.This is one of my favorites because it just so drool worthy delicious.
You'll need;

2 ripe tomatoes ( I prefer organic)
1  large green pepper
5-6 fresh ,shredded basil leaves
1 onion
2 cloves garlic minced
6 soy Italian sausages(or the real kind if you want)

Break sausage up into pieces and cook in minced garlic and olive oil in  a medium sized frying pan. Finely chop onion and slowly add to the meat. Cook for two to three minutes until slightly translucent.Core and seed pepper and then cut into coarse chunks.  Quarter the tomatoes and add both to the  mix. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes or until veggies are tender but firm. You can add basil as I did which gives it a nice bright slash of green along with sea salt and a good dose of freshly ground pepper.. I served mine with sautéed polenta rounds but you can also serve this with thick slices of Italian or French bread. The ratatouille also makes a great sauce for any kind of pasta too.

If you have harvest fever then cure it with a delicious hot dish such as this.It's a great way of using up extra vegetables while enjoying the season's harvest. Another plus  it's so easy and fun!

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