Hi, my name’s Emily and I am a farmers’ market junkie. No really, I have a serious problem. When May arrives and my local farmers’ market reopens for the summer, I visit every week. Sometimes twice. It takes me hours to peruse every stand and talk to every farmer. I usually spend way too much money buying way too much produce － more than my family could possibly eat in one week. When I get home I artfully arrange my trophies in cute little baskets on my countertop, and because I’m a total geek, I take pictures of my displays and text them to my husband with cheesy notes that say: “Look what’s cookin’ tonight!” or “Got Produce?” His replies go something like, “Um, that’s a lot of peppers, honey.” By the end of the week I’ve only used about half of what I bought, and I’m left with extremely ripe, eat-me-right-now veggies that are in threat of going to waste. Which is how I found my other addiction: ratatouille. This super healthy, one-pan meal uses up all my leftover odds-and-ends-produce, freeing up my counter for another visit to the market.
Farmers’ Market Ratatouille
This vitamin-rich dish can serve as a vegetarian entrée (say on Meatless Monday), an accompaniment to grilled meat, or an easy sauce when thrown into a pot of cooked pasta. Sometimes I even spoon it over a slice of toasted baguette for a quick lunch.
Farmers’ Market Ratatouille
Serves 4 as an entrée or 6-8 as a side dish
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 2 zucchini squash, diced
- 2 yellow summer squash, diced
- 1 small eggplant, skin on, diced
- 4 tomatoes, seeded
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, minced (or another fresh herb such as oregano, basil, or parsley)
- Kosher salt
- Fresh crack black pepper
In a large straight-sided skillet set over medium-high, heat oil until shimmering. Add onions and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add remaining ingredients to the pot, stirring and cooking for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cover pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until everything has softened, about 30-40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread to sop up all those lovely juices.
Local Farmers’ Markets
These days almost ever town in America has a weekly farmers’ market (typically open May through October). My local market runs twice a week during the summer, which is a great way to feed my addiction, but come December I start itching for a fix again. Thankfully, I’ve always lived within a stone’s throw of a major city that has a year-round farmers’ market. Usually housed in an permanent structure, these markets are just like the townie ones only on steroids. In addition to selling produce, farm-fresh eggs, and meats, many of these larger markets will offer an array of other attractions such as local cuisine, homemade soaps and lotions, art, flee market items, and rides & games for the kids. I’ve visited quite a few over the years, but my favorites are Pike Place Market in Seattle, Union Square Greenmarket in NYC, and City Market in Kansas City, MO, which I’ve visited a few times this season already…