Friday, August 3, 2012

Shallots and Ratatouille

Earlier this week I pulled my shallots. In February I started two varieties from seed, Ambition and Prisma. They were planted out in early April at the same time as my onions and grew very nicely after getting past the plague of cutworms I had this spring. I had to replace a number of them after the cutworms chopped them down so I got various sizes in the end. The shallots were another success over last year, when most of mine were eaten by voles. While not a huge amount, they are enough to keep us in "gourmet" eating this year! They are curing now and I will weigh them after they finish up and are trimmed for storage.
 When the eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and zucchinis start ripening at the same time it's time to make that wonderful Gallic stew ratatouille! I've mentioned before that my husband is a vegetarian, so this is one of my go-to meals. I make it in the crockpot and it is a delicious way to use those hot-weather veggies. Please forgive the unappetizing photograph; it smells and tastes so much better than that picture makes it look! I still have a way to go when it comes to "staging" my blog pictures! I serve ratatouille with warm homemade bread or with a pasta like gnocchi on the side. It freezes well, so I put extra aside for wintertime too.
And, because I'm finally having a good zucchini year (yeah!!) here I have joined the ranks of the bakers of zucchini bread. These are zucchini blueberry loaves, because I had a bag of last year's blueberries to use up to make room in the freezer for this year's produce. We have come to the conclusion that we need another freezer! Wow. I will end this post with my favorite crock-pot ratatouille recipe.
                                 Crock-pot Ratatouille
                2 onions, halved and sliced
                1 large eggplant (or several small) cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces
                1 large zucchini, cut into 1 inch pieces
                2 cloves of garlic, minced
                2 large bell peppers, cut into pieces
                2 large tomatoes, cut into pieces
                1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
                1 tsp. dry basil (or a tablespoon fresh chopped)
                1/2 tsp. oregano
                1 tsp. sugar
                2 tsp. salt
                pepper to taste
                2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
                1/4 cup olive oil
                Layer in the crockpot half of the onions, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, bell
                peppers, tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings. Repeat the layer with the
                other half of the ingredients. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover crock-pot and
                cook on low for 7-9 hours. Stir once during the cooking.


  1. Your shallots are great! I have to try those next year. I know what you mean about staging food. I do not have a talent for it and also don't have the time to do it! Your photos do look great!

    1. Thank you! Many people grow shallots from cloves, like garlic. I like the idea of doing them from seed, though you don't get the clusters of them that the cloves give you. And it's a real bargain when you consider what shallots go for in the grocery store!

  2. oh , how fun to trade recipes...isn't it amazing how many ways there are to cook/prepare food that are different from the way we may have cooked for YEARS!!!

    Our eggplants are just beginning to make, so I will copy this recipe...sounds good.

    also, yes, I do add water to the basil when I freeze it in the ice cube tray.

    1. Oh, thank you Kathryn! I am going to get out the ice cube trays right away and get to saving that basil!

  3. Hi nutmeg gardener! It doesn't matter if your pictures don't look as good as they taste! The important part is that they are yummy! Where might I find the recipe for the blueberry-zuke bread? Do shallots taste similar to onions? Nancy

    1. Nancy I put the recipe for the bread in a comment below. I still sometimes forget to hit the reply button when I am answering comments :-)

  4. I found the blueberry zucchini bread online. I'll write it here for you: 3 eggs, 1 cup vegetable oil, 3 tsp. vanilla extract, 2 and 1/4 sugar, 2 cups shredded zucchini, 3 cups flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 pint blueberries. Beat together eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar. Fold in zucchini. Beat in the rest of the ingredients except the berries. Lastly fold in the blueberries. Pour into greased loaf pans: 2 regular sized or 4 minis. Bake at 350 degrees. Mini loaves for 50 minutes, regular took me about 60, but check that a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 20 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to finish cooling. That's it! Shallots taste very similar to onions, just a slightly more subtle flavor and they are smaller.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to give me the recipe! Nancy