It’s harvest time on the farm. Although I live about two and a half hours away from our family farms, I still look at the weather and wonder …
- have they started combining?
- beans or corn?
- did they get too much rain to be in the field?
- who’s taking dinner to the field today?
The thing you have to know about family farming is just how many people are working together to complete the harvest. Someone is driving the combine. One or two people are driving tractors with wagons (or these days even semi trucks) to take the grain from the field to the farm or to the grain elevators in town. Someone is on the farm to unload the wagons/trucks into the grain storage units. Extra people are often needed to help move equipment from field to field. Someone else feeds these people!
As you can imagine, it is not a sit-down dinner. Sometimes, it’s sandwiches that they bring from home and eat when they want. Sometimes, someone will run into town and pick up pizza or burgers for everyone. Most of the time, someone will offer to make a meal for the entire group. That meal is mobile. The person making and delivering the meal will load it up and make multiple stops to feed everyone involved.
As the weather cools, there is nothing more satisfying than a hot meal. Years ago, a dear friend, fellow church member, and hard-working farm wife, gave my mom instructions on a stewed vegetable dish that she had shared with our family while they were working together. It was not a recipe. It was “a little of this … a little of that … a lot of this … oh and a dash of Tabasco”. Stewed vegetables with a kick. Perfect!
And since it wasn’t a “recipe”, it never really had a name. We started calling it “Harvest Vegetables” because it was a great way to use the vegetables from the garden as it ended its season and it went over so well with those working long days in the fields.
To name this blog, I thought I should officially name the recipe. The main elements of this dish are: carrots, onions, garlic, tomatoes and zucchini. Other than those, you can always improvise. Add celery or eggplant, herbs or spices, meat or pasta. I kept thinking this was a lot like a combination of Bolognese and Ratatouille.
Bolognese is a tomato-based meat sauce originating from Bologna, Italy. Carrots, onion, and celery are commonly included and it is tossed into pasta. Parmesan cheese is sprinkled on top and the rind from the wedge of cheese is often added to the sauce as it cooks and removed before serving.
Ratatouille (the dish, not the Pixar animated film about a rat/chef named Remy – although I highly recommend that movie) is a French stew of tomatoes, onions, garlic, zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers. Herbs typically added are bay leaf, thyme, fennel and basil.
This dish is really a combination of the two.
So which do you like better? Bolotouille? Or Ratanese?
I think I will name it after two of the kindest, most generous women I know: my mom and the woman who gave her the “instructions”. Both named “Dorothy”. Is it any wonder that name means “Gift of God”?
Dorothy’s Harvest Vegetables
NOTE: I have made this into a recipe. ALL measurements are flexible. You can increase or decrease, eliminate or substitute the ingredients based on personal preferences. Dried herbs are fine. No herbs is fine. Just make sure to season with salt and pepper to taste. This recipe makes the big dutch oven you see in the pictures (about 3 quarts).
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cups diced onion
4 cups finely diced or thinly sliced carrots
2 cups diced red or green pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt
several sprigs of fresh thyme, basil and rosemary
8-10 cups chopped tomatoes
2-3 cups sliced zucchini
1-2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
In a large (4 quart or bigger) dutch oven or stock pot, melt butter in olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, stirring to coat with the butter/oil. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add carrots, red pepper, salt, pepper, bay leaves, Old Bay seasoning, crushed red pepper, celery salt and herbs; stir to combine and distribute seasonings. Cook over medium-low to medium heat 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes and simmer until carrots are tender and the tomatoes break down, usually 15-20 minutes. (The type of carrot, fresh harvested or store-bought, as well as how big the pieces of carrot are, will affect how long it takes.) Add the zucchini and Tabasco sauce and continue to simmer 5 minutes.
By itself, this dish makes a great accompaniment to:
- a beef or pork roast
- a roasted or fried chicken
- shrimp or salmon
In the first picture above, we grilled some chicken sausage and made corn bread for our first meal with these vegetables.
The second picture is probably my favorite way to consume (and I do mean consume!) this medley. I use my immersion blender (in the picture below) and puree the batch when it is done cooking and turn it into a thick and hearty soup/sauce.
After it is smooth, I can it in pint jars. It is a very dense puree. When I want to have soup, I just add enough tomato juice (I like to add Spicy V8) to get the desired consistency, reheat and serve. When I want to use it as a sauce, I only add enough juice to reach a consistency that will coat pasta well. In the case of the pasta dish above, I used Trader Joe’s Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli, some toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper.
And, as you can see, I have jars of it in my cupboard waiting for cooler weather.
If they make it that long.
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