ratatouille or provencal tian? that is the question...whatever you call it this recipe is a keeper!

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ratatouille or provencal tian? that is the question on the table today...

basically the two dishes are pretty much the same thing. technically the version I have here is a provencal tian but because ratatouille is a much more known name I have veered more towards calling it ratatouille. plus I just love saying ratatouille, the r and ouilleeeee just roll off the tongue in a pretty fun way! maybe that is just me?

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a traditional ratatouille is more of a stew like dish. the veggies are roughly chopped and then smimmered in a tomato base which you can then eat as is or serve over rice, quinoa or even pasta. a provencal tian is made in a ceramic or oven safe dish, (the beauty I made mine in is by Copper Mill Kitchen, if you are looking for gorgeous copper they are your spot!) you thinly slice and systemically layer the vegetables ever so beautifully over the tomato sauce, as I have done here. the end results is show like piece dish, sure to wow your guests, yet quite effortless to prepare. 

I like a lot of flavour in my tomato sauces, like a lot of it. fresh herbs go a long way in my house. if you have been following me for a while now you will now that I don't use any dried herbs, only fresh. it may be a bit more work to chop up but the flavour fresh herbs brings to your dishes is so so worth the touch of extra labour. 

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for a little texture and added flavour I made an almond and sun dried tomato pesto to go into my tomato base as well as to brush over the vegetables before putting them in the oven. it's magnificent and adds just the right touch of crunch. I also added some red wine (a must in my books for any tomato sauce) and a dash of balsamic vinegar for extra depth in the sauce. 

fresh farmers vegetables and homemade tomato sauce make the difference in this ratatouille {aka provencal tian, aka whatever you want to call it}....baked for just the right amount of time so that the vegetables are not completely soft, they still have loads of crunch and texture. topped with an ample amount of grana padano cheese this dish is worthy of any autumn table.

this recipe makes enough tomato sauce and pesto for two ratatouilles. either freeze half of each or save it in the fridge till later in the week for a half-prepped meal. trust me you won't be sad eating this ratatouille twice in one week.

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sun dried tomato & almond pesto ratatouille

tomato sauce ingredients

3 shallots

4 cloves of garlic

1 jar of organic strained tomatoes

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup red wine

3 tbsp of fresh thyme

4 tbsp of fresh chopped oregano

salt and pepper to taste

sun dried tomato & almond pesto

one large bunch of basil

1 cup of sun dried tomatoes

1/4 cup almonds

2 cloves of garlic

juice of one lemon

3/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

ratatouille vegetables 

1 yellow zucchini

1 green zucchini

2 red peppers

4 - 5 vine ripened tomatoes

2-3 small white onions

1/2 cup grana padano (plus more for serving)

directions

preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 

in a food processor add all of the pesto ingredients and pulse until blended (the pesto should still have some texture to it, so not completely smooth). place half of the pesto in a small glass jar and cover with olive oil for another date (this recipe makes double the amount needed, as does the tomato sauce so perfect to make this dish twice). it is a great pesto to serve with fresh bread, or over eggs in the morning, trust me it won't be wasted. 

finely chop the shallots and garlic. in a large sauce pan on medium heat add 2 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of butter. once heated sauté the shallot and garlic until lightly browned. de-glaze the pan with the red wine then add the jar of strained tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. add in the finely chopped oregano and thyme, season with salt and pepper and add in 3/4 of the pesto mixture. let this simmer on low while you slice the ratatouille vegetables. 

thinly slice the zucchini's, onion, tomatoes and red pepper (slicing the red pepper vertically). transfer half of the tomato sauce to an oven safe baking dish (you can either freeze the other half or save it to make another ratatouille later in the week, this recipes makes a large amount of sauce perfect for two recipes just like the pesto). 

start layering the vegetables and onion in a circular pattern over top of the tomato sauce. if the pepper pieces are too big just make a cut and then fold the pepper piece into a smaller round so it is more of the same size as the zucchini and tomato rounds (kinda like tucking the pepper piece around itself). once layered brush the top of the vegetables with olive oil and then some of the pesto.

bake for 40-45 minutes. 10 minutes before taking out of the oven sprinkle on 1/2 cup of the grana padano cheese and bake until golden. serve with another heaping amount of freshly grated grana padano cheese and enjoy!


double crisped sourdough panzanella salad with peaches & blueberries

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i realize i am just on the cusp of tomato, peach and blueberry season being over. i had intended for this panzanella salad to be up a couple of weeks ago but somehow this september has grown it's own set of wings and completely taken off on me. 

it's all exciting, it's all good, wonderful really, these things i have going on behind the scenes (hope to be shared soon), but nonetheless they have kept me on my tippy toes flying around. which has meant i have not been able to be as present as i may have wished in this here space of mine. to be honest this busyness may take over my life for the coming months but i do promise to pop in here at least once a month with some kind of delicious update...like this panzanella salad.

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if there was one salad i could eat for the rest of my life it would be this salad. it represents all the beautiful elements of the end of summer and flawlessly leads us into the cooler autumn months.

the flavours are simple as is the prep but once they are tossed together it is like heaven on a plate. my biggest pet peeve with panzanella salad's is mushy bread, i mean, who ever really wants mushy bread panzanella salad or not. but i wanted to make sure these croutons could stand the test of time. so i started with fresh bread, yup fresh, not day old, not two day old, not three day old, fresh soft, squishy bread. 

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using fresh bread really allows you to determine the kind of crunch you want. personally i like it when a crouton is a little larger (think 1 inch in size), has a crispy outside but a tender soft inside. it's the best of both worlds really. the fresh bread is torn into pieces, somewhat dehydrated in the oven on a very low temp, then tossed in butter, garlic & olive oil that the toasted bread just soaks up. finally the flavoured croutons are placed back into the oven at a very high temp to get that second layer of crisp. they are highly delightful and really quite easy to make. you could make a larger batch and save some for later salads, caesar maybe or just eat them by the handful.

this salad is a salad that is hard to mess up...i don't really give that many measurements as a drizzle here and there is really all you need and you will be able to determine that once you have everything cut up and tossed together. side on the less is more motto until you get the perfect combination. i think i used about 2 tbsp of each...

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double crisped panzanella salad with peaches & blueberries

ingredients

1 loaf of fresh bakery sourdough

5 cloves of garlic

3 tbsp butter

2 peaches

1 pint of local cherry tomatoes (a variety of colours for prettiness)

1 cup of blueberries

1 shallot

basil

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

honey

salt & pepper to taste

directions

preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

roughly tear the sourdough into 1 inch pieces. you don't want the pieces too small nor too large. place the fresh bread onto a baking sheet and into the oven for 30-40 minutes until it has semi-dried out. the outside will feel slightly crispy but still tender to the touch (a squishy middle).

preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

in a large sauce pan on low-med heat add about 2 tbsp of olive oil and 3 tbsp of butter. mince the garlic and add it to the pan to brown a little. throw in the dehydrated bread, coat evenly and season with salt and pepper. place the croutons back onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and into the oven for another 15-20 minutes. watch this step very closely as the croutons will burn quickly.  you just want to brown them, again the outside will be crispy and the inside will still have a slight squish to it. trust me the crisp with the squish is delicious.

the rest of the salad is quite simple. finely chop a shallot, slice a couple of peaches, cut the tomatoes in half, add everything including the blueberries and basil to a large bowl and toss together with a drizzle of honey (about 1 tbsp) and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar (a couple of tbsp of each, use your discretion here). finally add the crispy croutons and toss once more, making sure to coat the croutons with some of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar juices. 

serve immediately. these croutons because they are larger and crisped twice will hold their structure much longer than regular croutons but not more than one seating (aka you can't leave this salad overnight).