It’s Labor Day weekend! School is back in session, traffic is nuts and summer is winding down. Whether you’re ready to embrace fall, or you’re panicking because you didn’t get-in enough beach days, here are 5 dishes you absolutely must eat before summer’s end.
Salmorejo is gazpacho’s richer, smoother cousin. Like gazpacho, this is a chilled Spanish soup made with tomatoes—thats’a where the similarities end. The tomatoes going into Salmorejo steep in hot water with onions, garlic and toasted bread, resulting in a soup that is not raw, but not quite cooked, and this in between state tastes amazing. The soup get’s it’s orange color not from red peppers —a common misconception—but from blending in a steady stream of olive oil on high speed until it emulsifies. Trust us, this is a dish you’ll want to serve to your fanciest friends. (And you might as well print out the recipe, because they’re going to ask for it). Best of all this soup is EASY!
What is summer without Ratatouille? There are legions of ratatouille recipes on the web, some claiming that each ingredient must be sautéed separately, others advocating for roasting everything together in the oven. The truth is, when you’re working with farmers’ market eggplant and just-off-the-vine tomatoes, your result is bound to taste delicious… but will it taste like authentic ratatouille? That is the question. This recipe is très Provençal. It calls for sautéing each ingredients individually (worth the effort), and it goes a step further by having you chop the veggies into small dice. The results in a robust ratatouille that’s never water-logged. If you close your eyes while eating this, you just might imagine that you’re on a stone porch overlooking a lavender field.
Blistered Shishito peppers are the perfect late-summer accompaniment to your aperitif. And if they take longer than 5 minutes to prepare, you’re doing something wrong. Shishitos are perfect pan blistered with crunchy salt — but are easy to dress up with a pinch of Aleppo pepper and a squeeze of lime.
Caponata is Sicily’s answer to ratatouille. It’s sweeter, richer, and more complex, with a splashes of vinegar, pinch of sugar and handful of capers. Caponata recipes, one to the next, can vary widely — but I’ve never met one I didn’t like. This recipe calls for red or white wine vinegar, I recommend going with a good sherry vinegar instead. And don’t even think about leaving the celery out.
Poulet au Pastis is one of those Mediterranean dishes that tastes exquisite and turns out to be simple to make. The secret of those Mediterranean dishes is usually superb local produce dishes and time-honored technique. Fresh fennel, pasture-raised chicken and local tomatoes make this simple chicken soup over-the-top. It’s easy enough to cook for your family, and tasty enough to cook for friends. Note: this dish assumes you are purchasing very small Provençal chickens. If you’re in the US — one will certainly do. Any anisette can sub for pastis (Pernod, absinthe, etc. but don’t use sambuca, it’s sweet).