Fast Ratatouille

This ratatouille is a striking departure from the classical French dish in which vegetables are cooked together until they become soft and the flavors marry.  In this version all the ingredients retain their own identity.  I learned it from the late food maven, writer and teacher Bert Greene.  It’s easy to prepare and makes a delectable one-dish meal along with some warm crusty French bread.

2 lbs. Italian sweet sausage, cut into ½“ slices

½ stick sweet butter

1/3 cup olive oil

1 large yellow onion, sliced

5 large shallots, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, mashed

½ lb. string beans, sliced lengthwise (Frenched)

2 green peppers, seeded and cut in strips

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

5 ripe tomatoes (seeded), roughly cut

½ t sugar

1 packet G. Washington beef bouillon powder

Dash of dried hot pepper flakes

4 zucchini squash, thinly sliced

2 T chopped Italian parsley

Optional: Freshly grated Fontina Cheese

Rub a large skillet with oil.  Heat until it is very hot.    Add sausage and sauté quickly.  Remover sausage and drain on paper towels.

Add butter and oil to skillet and sauté the onion, shallots and garlic until transparent and golden.  Add sliced stringbeans and pepper strips.  Season with salt and pepper and stir-fry.

Add tomato pieces.  Correct seasoning with a sprinkling of sugar (to caramelize the tomatoes) and bouillon powder (to fuse the flavors).  Add a dash of dried hot pepper flakes.  Cook over moderately high heat for about 8 – 10 minutes, until tomatoes soften.

Stir sausages into vegetables.  Add zucchini and toss well for about 6 – 7 minutes longer.  Serve garnished with chopped parsley and/or freshly grated Fontina cheese.  Serves 4 – 6.

Photos by sweetpaprika



Farmers Markets Continue in Full Swing

Tigerella tomatoes

I have been planning  my family meals around farmers market offerings.  Today I discovered these beautiful striped  Tigerella tomatoes at the Croton market.  They were sweet and juicy with a red interior.  I know it’s late in the season, but I still can’t believe I bought two trays of impatiens for a dollar a pot from Hodgson Farm.

The peaches are the star of my next post,  peach pie with a crumb topping.  The beets and tomatoes are from the Pleasantville market. Check out the adorable cupcakes from Flour and Sun Bakery in Pleasantville (a little side trip from the farmers market.)

Fragrant peaches at last!

The colors of summer!

Hodgson Farm Succulents

Colorful mini tomatoes

Uprooted this morning

Orange beets

Roasted Vegetable Gazpacho plus a “Tomatini” Bonus

Tomatini, aka a Bloody Mary Martini

Few soups are as inviting on a hot summer day as a cold gazpacho.  My idea of improving upon an already refreshing combination of local fresh produce is to first roast the tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic to lend that charred, slightly smoky flavor.  The added attraction here is the creation of a tomato martini by straining the steeped vegetables through a fine sieve, and mixing the liquid with vodka in a cocktail shaker to serve as a “tomatini”.

So as not to duplicate flavors in the same meal, I suggest serving the martinis one day, and allowing the flavors of the gazpacho to meld in the refrigerator and serving the soup the following day.


For gazpacho:

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil for brushing cookie sheet and vegetables

4 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes cut in half horizontally*

1 large sweet onion cut into thick slices*

2 sweet red peppers cut in half lengthwise*

2 garlic cloves peeled

1 medium cucumber, seeds removed and cut into chunks*

1 T balsamic vinegar

1 t Worcestershire sauce

1 T fresh lemon juice

2 t chili powder

1 T salt

½ t freshly ground black pepper

2 cups tomato juice

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

For croutons:

2 oz day-old French bread, crusts removed and cut into ½ inch cubes

1T butter

1 T olive oil

For garnishes:

*2 T each reserved vegetables cut into a small dice before processing

1 small jalapeno pepper, finely diced

1 t each chopped basil, mint, thyme and parsley

For tomatini:

4 oz. strained gazpacho

8 oz vodka

2 t fresh lemon juice

4 drops Tabasco sauce


12 tiny grape tomatoes


On a large cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and lightly brushed with olive oil, place the tomato halves, (cut sides up) onions, sweet pepper halves (cut sides down) and garlic.  Brush vegetables with olive oil and roast on the middle shelf of a 400-degree oven checking after 15 minutes from time to time.  Take out the garlic when soft, the tomatoes and onions when golden and the pepper halves when blackened.  Let cool.  Peel the skin off the tomatoes, squeeze out the seeds and place in the container of a large food processor.    Peel the skin off the peppers, take out the seeds and place in the container.  Add onions and garlic. Pulse until lightly mixed.  Add cucumbers, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, chili powder, salt and pepper.  Pulse until coarsely pureed but not smooth.  Add tomato juice and pulse again. Pour into a glass or plastic container and chill until icy cold.

Sauté croutons in 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil until crisp and golden brown.  Set aside in a small bowl.

Combine raw tomato, cucumber, sweet pepper, jalapeno, onion, basil, mint, thyme and parsley in a small bowl and set aside.

For tomatinis:  Strain 4 oz. of liquid from the gazpacho. Place in a cocktail shaker with 8 oz. vodka, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and 4 drops of Tabasco sauce.  Add 2 scoops of ice and stir vigorously. Strain into four 4-oz martini glasses.  Garnish each with tiny grape tomatoes on a skewer.

After liquid for tomatinis is strained out, stir ½ cup extra virgin olive oil into gazpacho.  Check texture.  If too thick, thin with a little tomato juice. Ladle soup into shallow soup plates and serve with the croutons and chopped vegetables in separate bowls.  Serves four generously.

Photographer Bill Brady
Food Stylist Brian Preston Campbell

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