Roasted Ratatouille Toasts

A delightful spin on the classic stew, this time slathered on toasted bread as a starter!

Method:
1 heirloom tomato, roughly chopped
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, some sliced in half, others left whole
½ eggplant, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 zucchini or summer squash, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 sweet pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
⅓ cup olive oil
2½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 loaf rustic bread or focaccia, sliced into ½-inch-thick slices
½ cup crumbled sheep’s milk feta or fresh ricotta
½ cup basil, thinly sliced
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large roasting pan, toss the tomatoes, eggplant, squash or zucchini, pepper, onion and garlic with red pepper flakes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned and the tomatoes have released their juices. Stir the vegetables halfway through cooking, and then toss again once they have been removed from the oven.

2. Remove the vegetables from the oven and increase the temperatures to a broil. Lightly brush each slice of bread or focaccia with olive oil. Place them on the upper rack of the oven and toast until lightly browned, 1-2 minutes.

3. Top each toast with a generous portion of the ratatouille mixture, and then add a little crumbled feta or dollop of ricotta on each. Garnish with the basil and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Pan-Fried Peppers with Lemon & Garlic

Seasoned with slivered garlic, this Bon Appetit recipe is a favorite for enjoying fresh peppers.

Ingredients:
½ pound Jimmy Nardello peppers, or any combination of late summer peppers, left whole
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus more for serving
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Method:
1. Heat heavy large skillet over high heat. Add vegetable oil and swirl skillet to coat. Heat until oil is very hot and begins to shimmer, about 1 minute.

2. Add whole peppers and ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt; stir constantly until peppers are blistered over half their surface, occasionally shaking skillet, about 2 minutes. Add thinly sliced garlic and continue to stir constantly until the peppers are blistered all over, about 2 minutes longer (some will be soft and some will be slightly firm, depending on size).

3. Transfer peppers to paper towels to drain briefly, then place in a medium serving bowl. Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice; sprinkle generously with additional coarse sea salt and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Cucumber Bird’s Eye Smash

A spicy, herbaceous cocktail crafted with this week’s fiery hot sauce.

Ingredients:
½ cucumber, washed and cut into bite-sized chunks
4-6 basil leaves
Dash of simple syrup
1.5 ounces dry gin
Juice of 1 lime
Dash of Cucumber Bird’s Eye hot sauce

Method:
1. Muddle the basil leaves and cucumber chunks in a cocktail shaker along with about a half tablespoon of simple syrup. Add the gin, lime juice, and a few drops of the hot sauce and shake with ice. Strain into a glass over fresh ice and enjoy!

Baked Feta with Honey

A kick of honey lends a sweet touch to the salty cheese; serve with grilled bread crostini!

Ingredients:
1 8-ounce block sheep’s milk feta, blotted dry with a paper towel
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
Fresh ground pepper
Grilled bread crostini

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the feta in a small baking dish and drizzle the olive oil over the top. Bake until the cheese is soft to the touch, but not melted, about 8 minutes.

2. Remove the feta from the oven and preheat the broiler. Drizzle the honey over the cheese, and then return to the oven and broil until the cheese is golden brown and bubble, about 2-3 minutes.

3. Remove from the oven and season generously with pepper. Serve immediately with the grilled bread crostini.

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