Confessions Of A Farm Stand Addict

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I confess. I’m a roadside vegetable stand addict.

Just this week I saw a sign hanging above half pecks of assorted slightly bruised vegetables.

“$2.00 A BASKET!” the sign proclaimed.

Immediately I thought, “I’ll make a delicious market basket ratatouille with the speckled yellow squash and less than perfect assorted colored peppers.”

And that’s what I did. This recipe serves 12, so either throw a fall dinner party and serve this veggie-hearty dish as a side, enjoy the leftovers up to six days, or freeze for later.

For the main course, serve melt-in-your-mouth fresh sea scallops with red curry sauce over jasmine rice. Don’t forget the dessert! Perhaps a simple dish of fresh berries and cream.

Bon autumnal appétit!

Roadside Stand Market Basket Ratatouille(Serves 12)2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 large onions, peeled, halved and sliced

6 large cloves garlic, 3 sliced and 3 minced

14 to 18 small yellow squash, (or zucchini) scrubbed, halved lengthwise and sliced

18 medium red and green, yellow, orange and red peppers, washed, seeded, and sliced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon herbs de Provence, to taste

2 tablespoons basil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste

1½ cups red wine

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

Optional:

1 tablespoon arrowroot mixed with 2 tablespoons water, for thickeningTo prepare:Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Film the bottom of a large, heavy non-reactive roasting pan with olive oil.

Set the pan over 2 stove-top burners on low.

Scatter onions in the pan and sauté until they begin to soften, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Add garlic, salt and pepper and slowly sauté, stirring often until aromatic, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, add squash and peppers to the pan.

Mix well until the vegetables glisten with oil.

Stir in herbs and red pepper flakes.

Add just enough wine until it is visible around the edges of the vegetables, then bring to a simmer.

Add crushed tomatoes and mix to blend.

Place parchment paper directly on top of the vegetables, then cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Seal the edge shut and bake in the center of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Stir, then replace foil over the vegetables loosely, leaving the edge open for steam to escape.

Return pan to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 375 degrees if needed to prevent scorching.

Remove the foil and bake until the vegetables are tender and juices begin to thicken, about 30 minutes longer.

Pour off juices into a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil and cook about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, if thickening is needed, make a slurry of arrowroot and water, then stir it into the juices and cook until the sauce lightly coats the back of a spoon.

Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Pour the sauce over the vegetables and stir to blend.Sea Scallops With Red Curry(Serves 6)1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup dry vermouth

4 shallots, minced

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup Thai red curry paste or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon Thai fish sauce (nam Pla)

Olive oil, for sautéing

2 to 3 pounds sea scallops, washed, patted dry with paper towels and trimmed

3 cups extra fancy petit pois (baby peas), defrosted and drained

12 celery leaves, chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

6 to 8 cups cooked jasmine rice, hot

Whole celery leaves, for garnishTo prepare:Add wine, vermouth and shallots to a non-reactive heavy saucepan and cook over high heat.

Bring to a boil, cooking until the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup.

Add the cream, pouring it down the sides of the pan.

Stir to blend, the bring to a boil again.

After coming to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, until the cream begins to thicken slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the coconut milk, cayenne, curry paste and fish sauce.

Bring back to a boil.

Remove from the heat.

Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Just before serving, remove tough muscle along side of each scallop and pat dry with paper towels.

Coat the bottom of a heavy skillet over high heat with oil.

Being careful not to crowd the scallops, add them and sear until brown on one side, about 2 minutes for rare, sear the other side about 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Immediately add peas and celery leaves to the skillet and sauté, shaking the pan back and forth until the peas are hot, about 1 minute.

Add the curry sauce and cook until the flavors blend, about 3 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasonings.

To plate, spoon a mound of hot rice in the center of warm dinner plates.

Arrange the scallops around the rice.

Spoon the sauce with peas over the scallops and around the plate.

Add a celery leaf for garnish and serve at once.

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