It has been a tough week. Perhaps a tough two weeks. Whom am I kidding? This past month has been awful. I suppose this deserves an explanation. I am supposed to be vacationing with my husband’s family in Belgium right now. However, I have a problem. I am petrified of flying. Not just scared. I mean huddled-in-the-corner-shaking-crying-thinking-I-am-going-to-die-unable-to-breathe kind of scared. And I couldn’t get on the plane. Panic attacks took hold of me and didn’t let go. It was terrible. There is a silver lining, I guess. We pulled ourselves together. I had, in fact, stressed my entire family out. Enough to land both my husband and mother in the emergency room. I said it was awful, right? So we piled into the car and headed out to Cape Cod. A beautiful, beautiful place. This is a picture of Race Point Beach at the very tip of Cape Cod. And it was amazing. One of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have ever been.
Are you asking yourself what this all has to do with ratatouille? I promise you the delicious-ness is forthcoming. While in Cape Cod, we found this amazing little place, Coonamessett Farm. It is a pick your own farm that is quite extensive. I have never seen so many choices of vegetables: leeks, purple peppers, carrots, tomatoes, arugula, eggplant, squash, broccoli, fresh flowers. It made me want to pack my bags and move up there. So we gathered our goodies. And, immediately, I headed back to the kitchen. The first thing I noticed was the crispness of the veggies. I mean, they snapped. The green pepper tasted almost like a snap pea. It was so earthy and fresh. I am not even sure I can describe it. I finally understood what Alice Waters was talking about. These veggies were breathing. That may sound crazy and strange, like I have been drinking too much wine. But there was still dirt clinging to them as I took them out of the bag. They were the freshest veggies I have ever had. They were delightful.
Because I was vacationing, I did not have all of my usual kitchen necessities. I am, however, a dork and never travel without my trusty Le Creuset pot. So a little improvisation was necessary. But this meal still was outstanding. It is the last stand for summer vegetables: tomato, eggplant, pepper, scallion. And it is so simple and elegant. Because there are so few ingredients, the freshness of the veggies is key. The Japanese eggplant that I used really puts the regular eggplant to shame. It has a different flavor entirely and is long and skinny. I always prefer it when I am making an eggplant dish. In the end, this meal was exactly what we needed. It was so hearty — true comfort food. There are few things that make me happier than a bowl full of steaming noodles with a concoction of fresh veggies on top. The thyme and the rosemary add that little bit of savory flavor that lingers as you take a bite. But at the same time it is healthy and chock full of summer delicious-ness.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.