HOB’s (husband of blogger) job sometimes takes him to far-away places for long periods of time. Time for take out and restaurants, right? Wrong. To me, there is something fundamentally satisfying about cooking a nice meal for myself, and eating off of real plates versus out of takeout containers. When I’m solo, I relish in very long trips to the farmer’s market, strolling around leisurely, deciding what to make for dinner. On one such trip, I knew I wanted to make ratatouille, but ended up buying much more produce and goodies than I needed for that dish. And so my weekend began, cooking for 1 on the fly.
After the market, I arrived home in the afternoon and washed and dried my produce, put the iPOD on shuffle and got to work on my ratatouille. I’d never made this summer dish before and was excited to give it a try. My recipe called for zucchini, eggplant, onions, cherry tomatoes, anchovies, thyme, basil, garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with each vegetable cooked separately and then combined and heated until a soft, melting concoction of goodness resulted. Having heard ratatouille only gets better as it sits, I set it aside and then refrigerated it for dinner the next day.
That night, I oven-roasted a piece of salmon along with a stuffed heirloom tomato, and had a garden salad and bread on the side. Simplicity is bliss. The salmon was seasoned with only olive oil, salt and pepper while the tomato was stuffed with a mixture of cooked orzo, goat cheese, basil and green onion. My salad was topped with the near-candy-flavored cherry tomatoes I’d picked up at the farmer’s market, toasted almonds and a simple shallot vinaigrette. The bread was from a local bakery and was crusty on the outside and pillowy-soft in the center. To drink was Fiorella, a dry, light rose wine that complimented all the bright, summery flavors of my meal and even flowed beautifully right into my dessert of oven-roasted peaches topped with hand-whipped cream. Poor HOB, I think he told me he had a ham sandwich that night.
By the time the next evening rolled around I could hardly wait to try the ratatouille. It didn’t look as gloriously colorful as the cookbook picture at that point… more like a thick stew. The flavors, however, were as glorious as they come. I heated a bit up on the stove and poured it over some orzo pasta, then topped it with crumbled goat cheese. Each bite was like taking a bite of sunshine; I could still taste each vegetable but they also melted together in a hearty, rich way. The tangy goat cheese brightened the flavors even more. I did not have wine with my ratatouille but can honestly say that a variety of wines would be delicious with this French masterpiece, from crisp whites to fruity reds.
The third and last dinner utilizing my farmer’s market finds was the simplest of them all: herb omelet with sautéed Swiss chard. I’d never bought eggs at the market until this recent trip. When I opened the carton at home I was delighted to find brown, white, even baby blue eggs! When I cracked two open I found two bright orange yolks, nothing like the neon yellow color you can sometimes find from supermarket eggs. They already looked delicious. I scrambled them up with a little salt and pepper and tossed in some chopped chive. Over low heat I melted some butter and slowly poured in the egg, stirring a little then pushing the edges in and tilting the pan so that the uncooked egg fell into the hot pan to cook. After a couple of minutes the bottom was done and the top was just custardy and soft. I folded the omelet up and placed it beside my chard that I had sautéed with olive oil, garlic and chili flake. Now, a lot of people may think that eggs are eggs. How much different could they taste from each other? Trust me, there is a difference. These eggs were divine. I took little bites, wanting to savor the omelet longer that it normally would have lasted. I sipped on an oaky Chardonnay and it worked. The wine was just buttery enough so that it complemented the eggs and the fruit flavor notes were very good with the bitter chard.
As I write this, HOB is still gone but due to come home in just under a week which gives me one more weekend alone. I know just what to do.