Tag Archive for farmer’s market

Farm Fresh Ratatouille with Polenta {Vegan}

Ask me about my food philosophy, and it’ll be the same answer every time: obviously it needs to be delicious, made with love, mostly plant-based, and ideally, sustainable, local and in season.

You see, what we eat has far-reaching effects, probably more so than we realize. By supporting local farmers and eating seasonally, it’s much better for the environment. Our carbon footprint is reduced when we eat locally-produced stuff, and the truth is, it tastes better, too. Now, I’m not saying I don’t buy bananas (I totally do), but given the choice between a locally-grown cucumber and one grown a continent away, I’ll choose the local one every time.

Cucumbers growing int he greenhouse

Cucumbers being grown in a greenhouse.

Supporting local farmers also supports our local economy. I’m a small business owner, I want to support other small business owners, and hopefully they will support me. More money stays in our local economy, and that’s also a good thing.

BC Greenhouse Vegetables

I really love visiting farms, so I was stoked to get invited to a long table dinner last week that took place inside a working greenhouse where they were growing cucumbers. It was a really cool experience to see how they are able to grow way more cucumbers hydroponically, by growing them vertically instead of on the ground. And it’s not just cucumbers. Other farms are growing eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.

BC Greenhouse Longtable Dinner

The dinner was fantastic, and paired with lots of other local ingredients, like cheeses and wine from Mt. Lehman, and local meats as well.

Roasted red pepper bisque Veggie Fritters Lemon curd with rhubarb

We went home with very full bellies, and also a bag of superfresh produce. I decided to turn mine into ratatouille, which is a kind of French peasant stew made of vegetables. You could serve it plain, or as a side, but I like serving mine on a bed of creamy polenta.

It’s such a great spring/summer dish, the perfect thing to make after a trip to the Farmer’s Market.

Hug a farmer, you guys! They work so hard, and without them, our lives would be much less colourful and a whole lot less delicious.

Ratatouille and Polenta

Ratatouille with Polenta

Ingredients for the stew:

  • 2 tbsp–1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small green zucchini, not peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 small yellow or light green zucchini, not peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled or not peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 3-4 vine-ripened tomatoes (small to medium), diced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olives (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs: parsley, basil, oregano
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce or 2 tbsp tomato paste plus 2 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the polenta:

  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup non dairy milk, unsweetened, unflavoured
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 tsp vegan butter

Vegan Ratatouille and Polenta

Method:

  1. In a dutch oven on medium heat, heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the diced the onion, season and stir well. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the eggplant and zucchini and stir well to coat with oil (add more if needed). Season. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  3. Add the garlic and stir well to combine.
  4. Add the peppers and stir well, allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Stir everything well together and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the sauce has thickened. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and the olives. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  6. Lastly, stir in the fresh herbs just before serving, reserving a few for garnish.
  7. To make the polenta: bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Combine the polenta and the corn flour together, and then add it to the boiling vegetable stock in a a steady, slow stream, whisking all the time.
  8. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to whisk until the polenta is a thick, porridge-like consistency. Remove from heat and whisk in the vegan butter and the vegan milk. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  9. To serve: pour the polenta onto a large serving platter and top with the ratatouille. Garnish with fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, EVOO and (if you’re not vegan) a little cheese.

 

Panzanella Salad

It’s tomato season! Maybe some of you out there have tomatoes in your garden that are producing by the bushel right now. If so, I’m jealous of you–I’ve never been that great at growing them.

What I am great at is going to the Farmer’s Market, which I did last weekend, and came home with a bunch of beautiful, heirloom tomatoes.

panzanella salad

If you’re wondering what makes a tomato “heirloom,” they are planted from older seeds, heritage seeds that have been preserved. Overall, what you’ll notice is that they are much more colourful, and you’ll see a wide variety of shapes and sizes, unlike the more uniform colour and product you’ll get from your grocery store.

I’d been craving something fresh these days after being on the road the last couple of weeks and eating nothing but restaurant food. But I wasn’t sure what. A Gazpacho, maybe? All I knew was that it needed to be something I didn’t have to spend time slaving over a hot stove. I’m in the middle of writing my chapter on baking in the cookbook, and my kitchen is 400 degrees all the freaking time.

farmers market panzanella salad

So, I settled on a Panzanella Salad. An Italian salad, this is meant to use up stale bread. I had an old baguette in the freezer I’d been saving for this purpose, and the rest of my ingredients were easily sourced at the Sunday Kits Farmer’s Market.

It’s super easy. Just chop everything and throw it in a bowl. This recipe is completely vegan if you leave off the cheese, or use a vegan Parmesan alternative.

I love that it makes use of what’s in season right now, and no oven, to boot!

panzanella salad 2

Panzanella Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 largeish ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large cucumber
  • onions; I used 3 green onions because I like the milder flavor, but you could use half a red onion
  • salt and pepper
  • 12 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 french baguette
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Method

  1. Cut your baguette into bite-sized (about 1″ square) pieces. If your bread is fresh, lay it on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast it in the oven at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes.
  2. Cut the tomatoes into a 1″ dice.
  3. Slice the cucumber length-wise all the way down and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Now slice each half into half-moon slices, about 1/3″ thick.
  4. Chop the onion finely, and chiffonade the basil.
  5. Now, toss everything together in a large bowl, keeping aside a little of the basil for garnish.
  6. In a mason jar, add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, along with salt and pepper to taste. Shake well to combine, then pour over the salad and toss well.
  7. Pour the salad out onto a platter, and garnish with the remaining basil and curls of Parmesan cheese.

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