27th February, 2020
My husband walks into the kitchen and is instantly hit with the enticing aroma of dinner. When he asks what I am making I tell him, “I am cooking the garden”.
The words just slip out like that, but it was not far from the truth.
Most of the contents of the oven had been harvested from the backyard this past week. Tomatoes, kamo kamo, zucchini, red onion, even the dried marjoram had come from the garden.
And the smell in the kitchen was intoxicating (in a good way), the ingredients blending together to produce a fragrant ratatouille. A quintessential summer dish that will be on rotation for the next month as the late summer and autumn produce is in full swing.
Harvest Ratatouille with Basil Oil
- About 700g kamo kamo and/or zucchini, chopped into 2cm chunks
- About 700g vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped in 2cm chunks
- 1 red onion, chopped into 2cm chunks
- ½ cup kalamata olives
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram or oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Combine the kamo kamo/zucchini, tomatoes, onion, olives, and olive oil on a large roasting tray and toss to combine to evenly coat with the oil. Add the marjoram and season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well and spread out evenly on the tray.
Place in the hot oven for 20 minutes, then flip the produce with a spatula and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until tender and fragrant.
Serve hot or at room temperature, drizzled with basil oil (see directions below). It makes for a particularly good picnic dinner in the garden with grilled polenta to soak up the juices. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.
This vibrant oil adds a brightness to the meal and is a handy way to use a small handful of fresh basil leaves not quite enough to make a batch of pesto.
To make, blend a handful of basil with one garlic clove, a squeeze of lemon, and 100ml of olive oil until smooth. Pour into a jar and use within three days.
- 4 cups boiling water
- A pinch of salt
- 1 cup quick-cook polenta
- A small knob of butter
- 50 g grated parmesan, optional
- Olive oil for brushing
Line a 25cm x 25cm tray with baking paper.
Pour the boiling water into a large saucepan and bring to a rapid boil. Add the salt, then slowly trickle in the polenta while whisking to prevent lumps. Turn down the heat as it will start to splatter, and whisk constantly for five minutes. Remove from the heat and add the butter and parmesan. Stir well, then pour on to the prepared tray, spreading out evenly to the sides. Set aside to set at room temperature (not in the fridge or it will become soggy).
Heat the oven grill on high.
Once the polenta is firm but still warm, cut into 18 wedges and arrange on an oiled baking tray. Brush each wedge with olive oil and place under the hot grill until it's beginning to colour.
Serve hot or warm. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge and reheated like a potato hash to serve with eggs and mushrooms for breakfast.
*Recipes first published 12th February 2020 on Stuff.co.nz