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Dinner Tonight: Seasonal Ratatouille

So, I looked in my fridge and noticed that I had: eggplants, bell peppers, squash, zucchini, and tomatoes. That didn't happen on purpose--it's what they had at the farmers' market. But not until my wife said we should have ratatouille did it strike me how convenient this recipe is at this time of year. I mean, all of those ingredients are in season at the exact same time. What a wonder.

That doesn't mean finding a recipe was easy. Most involved cooking all the ingredients together in a large pot, meaning they'd get all broken-up and lose their texture. To avoid that, some recipes suggested cooking every item separately, then combining them at the end, which sounded like a lot of work.

Luckily, I found this one on Curiously Ravenous, originally taken from Chez Panisse Cooking by Paul Bertolli with Alice Waters. It offered a nice mix of cooking a few things separately, but keeping everything manageable. My favorite part: the use of high heat. Not only are the ingredients cooked in stages, but some veggies get an extra hit of flavor from the heat. This especially helps the peppers, which get crisp and caramelized. In the end, this version of ratatouille feels less like a pragmatic stew, more like what it should be: a celebration of the abundant season.

About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is a freelance writer in Chicago. He is the co-founder of The Paupered Chef and spends most of his time playing with the new cooking gadgets he got from his wedding.

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