Early fall is upon us, with summer gardens about to retire. If you still have access to fresh garden veggies or locate high quality produce at the grocery, now’s your chance to embrace ratatouille. It’s a traditional recipe originating from South East France that combines flavorful summer veggies in one dish.

The summer garden treat I enjoy most is vine-ripened tomatoes, particularly the heirloom varieties with balanced, rich flavor. In addition to their aesthetic qualities, tomatoes are beneficial for health. They contain a compound called lycopene, which has been showed to lower men’s risk for prostate cancer. High amounts of vitamin C and other antioxidants keep cells healthy. And the potassium in tomatoes promotes healthy blood pressure.

This tomato-rich ratatouille hash is an adaptation of the traditional stew-like dish. I like to serve it over a slice of toasted baguette topped with goat cheese or cream cheese spread. The hash also makes a great topping for pasta, salads and sandwiches.

Ratatouille Hash

1 pound chopped tomato (1 large or several small)

1 teaspoon salt

1 pound other vegetables (summer squash, eggplant, bell peppers, onions), ¼” chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 ounces olive oil

3 tablespoons basil, chopped

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar

freshly ground black pepper

baguette or other favorite bread, sliced

goat cheese or cheese spread (optional)

1. Chop the tomato, then toss with salt and place in colander. Let sit while preparing other vegetables.

2. Cut your other veggies, garlic, and basil.

3. Place large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, then vegetables and garlic. Stir frequently, cooking until golden.

4. Press as much water as possible out of the tomatoes and toss with vegetables.

5. Add basil, white balsamic vinegar and freshly ground pepper. Taste to see if you need more salt.

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