Ratatouille, in anticipation


As we were clearing the counters following our book club meal, our host reached into her fridge and opened a plastic bag to show another member the nettles she just picked in her yard.


Last week I mentioned them as if foraging was time out of mind. As if they wouldn’t show up until April or something. Poor me: glum about the lack of local produce; resigned to eating last year’s nettles preserved in local cheese.

Well. Our mild winter is yielding, I see (is it too early to say so?), and now the shoots are unfolding.

It’s funny when things happen this way. When I give up, something arrives.

My plan anyhow is to cook what I can until the full harvest. After last week’s sulking session and few cheese-and-cracker binges I shrugged and went and bought myself a whole heck of a lot of California.

Tomatoes, eggplant, red peppers. Yep. I used these and a load of other ingredients to make the bright ratatouille from Plenty. And since the recipe includes parsnips, I was able to nudge in something local – there are still some kicking about from Kirsop Farm.

In addition to the Ottolenghi book, which was a gift from my sweetie earlier this month, I bought two new cookbooks during my maiden voyage to The Book Larder last week. Making a pilgrimage to the all-cookbooks store has been on my Seattle to-do list and since I had the perfect excuse* to visit Fremont, I made it into a day trip.

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I bought Suzanne Goin’s cookbook on the recommendation of a woman I met at a party who swears by her menus. A cauliflower dish awaits.

I’m excited about Roots and have been since it came out in the fall: first, because I attended Diane Morgan’s workshop on writing cookbook proposals at IFBC (food bloggers, have you registered?) and had a nice chat with her afterwards; second, because Hannah of Blue Kale Road owns this book and tells me the recipes are not only wonderful but help her branch out from her roasted-veggie rut when it comes to local roots. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I think it’s a great investment.

I’ll let you know how my root stock turns out.

In the meantime, I made enough ratatouille to last through to the weekend.


*To meet this little guy! He’s also my excuse for any and all lateness this week:


12 thoughts on “Ratatouille, in anticipation

  1. Look at your new pup – too cute! He’s a lucky guy to be in your family. I’m pulling Plenty off the shelf to check out this ratatouille…your photos are tempting me. It was a pleasure to spend time together, and I’m loving my new Book Larder treasures!

    • You too, Hannah! You’ll have to let me know which recipes are working for you. The ratatouille is a little more complicated than I usually do – me and my one-pot cooking – because it requires removing ingredients, adding them back in and then a combination of cooking over the burner and baking in shallow pans. But, wow. Really delicious. I was so glad I doubled it. Loved spending time with you as well!

    • Oh believe me, it was hard! I also picked up a paperback of The Kitchen Counter Cooking School and needed to stop :). And just heard today that Roots was shortlisted for an award through the IACP (organization for culinary professionals).

  2. I’ve never tasted nettles and have no idea what they might be like; you’re making me curious! The pooch is a fine looking fellow. Might he be the new addition to your family or is it too soon to tell yet? Isn’t it exciting to get new books? I just had a delivery today. Cookbooks, food books, writing books … I just can’t get enough!

    • I know. I’m on a buying fast for awhile. Plenty of books to keep me busy for a long time! What are your newest additions? Try nettles if you can – I’d say they’re to spinach what venison is to corn-fed beef. The flavor is deep and intense. You can boil and strain them out to make a comforting tea. You can also make them into pesto, though I prefer to mix them with other greens. The flavor is too intense for me otherwise. And yes, this pup is here to stay, we think! Fun and busy, busy.

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