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Summer Vegetable Ragout with Exotic Curry Sauce

[caption id="attachment_291" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="The finished Summer Vegetable Ragout with Exotic Curry Sauce."][/caption]

From-scratch curry sauces can be pretty intimidating. Ingredients like lemongrass can be hard to find, and sometimes the sheer quantity of ingredients it takes to make a curry can send you running out of your kitchen and into the nearest Thai restaurant, where someone else will make it for you. But what fun is that? It's the Labor day weekend and there's plenty of time to get out the old mortar and pestle for a sauce-making adventure.

We're finally winding down from the squashy days of summer (summer squash, that is — what were you thinking?) But last week I still had some yellow squash and zucchini in the produce drawer, along with an eggplant, corn, and arugula. So to avoid letting any of it get past its peak, I made this dish, which incorporates them all in a surprisingly beautiful combination of flavors that will leave even the meat eaters at the table satisfied.

[caption id="attachment_292" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="All of the vegetables are combined shortly before serving for a final re-heat in the oven."][/caption]

Lemongrass and ginger are pretty key to this recipe, so don't skip them; lemongrass can often be found in the fresh herbs section of the produce department of your local megamart, or in an Asian market. (Or, if you live in Winter Park, it's growing like crazy in a planter along Park Avenue — I'm sure they wouldn't notice if you snagged a stalk). Carrot juice is another key ingredient. I found a small bottle with the fresh fruit juices in the produce department. (If I had a juicer, I would have definitely used it!)

Summer Vegetable Ragout with Exotic Curry Sauce

This recipe is largely unchanged from the original, which appeared in the September 2010 issue of Bon Bon App├ętit magazine. If you like a saucier meal, double the curry sauce recipe — you don't have to use all of it but you at least know you'll have enough for everyone!

Ingredients for Curry Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small carrot, peeled, chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, coarsely chopped and pounded with meat mallet to flatten slightly (Jamie note: I chopped the lemongrass pretty fine and threw it in my stone mortar. I then proceeded to bash out the week's aggressions with the pestle. Works like a champ.)
  • 1 1-inch piece unpeeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (preferably Madras)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups fresh carrot juice
[caption id="attachment_293" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Some of the Mise en Place -- curry powder and apple."][/caption]

Other Ingredients (Vegetables)

  • 1 1/2 pounds eggplants (about 2 medium), peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound assorted summer

Heirloom Tomatoes with Peaches

The Season's Pick box from our local co-op has been pretty hit-or-miss lately. We've gotten some bizarre and exotic stuff in there, but very little that we would normally include in our typical cooking repertoire.

This week, however, I was delighted to find two huge, perfectly ripe, flawless heirloom tomatoes waiting in the bottom of the box. Normally I would just slice and top them off with a little light vinaigrette, so as not to take away from the perfect flavor tomatoes have this time of year. But this week I was inspired by the newest issue of Food & Wine, which is filled with southern recipes reinvented for the modern cook.

[caption id="attachment_194" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Heirloom Tomatoes, two from our Season's Pick box and one from Whole Foods"]Heirloom Tomatoes[/caption]

I grew up in the South… ish. Most of my extended family was centrally located in Memphis, Tennessee, and our family vacationed in North Carolina nearly every summer. It goes without saying that I was exposed to a great deal of southern food in my formative years. My grandmother's macaroni and strawberry cake recipes are legendary. (At least the Gillespies — myself included — think so!) And while I wasn't exposed to collards and okra until I joined the co-op many years later, I have fond memories of black-eyed peas, corn bread, and sweet potato casserole (smothered in toasted marshmallows, of course) from Christmases past.

There are few food genres that have a worse reputation for health value than Southern cooking (or is that cookin'). Rightfully so, perhaps. On my most recent trip to Memphis, the smell of southern fried chicken was in the air seemingly from the moment I stepped off the plane until I boarded again two days later. Which is why I was surprised to find a (mostly) healthy heirloom tomato salad in the middle of last month's issue of Southern Living magazine. (I know, I said I was inspired by this month's Food & Wine, but that's what made me pick up the Southern Living in the first place… Track with me, people.)

Peeling the Peach

Normally I change a few things about a recipe before posting it here — things I'd change if I made it again, or substitutions I had to make based on what I had on-hand at the time — but there's very little I would do to change this one. If you have amazing tomatoes and peaches at your farmer's market this time of year, this one is definitely worth a shot. If it's the middle of the winter and your tomatoes are like cardboard, put this on the shelf until tomato season hits!

[caption id="attachment_196" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Heirloom Tomatoes with Fresh Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Pecans"][/caption]

Heirloom Tomatoes with Fresh Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Pecans

This will take about 20 minutes to prepare and make 6 servings, but my husband and I ate the entire thing right off the platter.

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