From recent publication in North Coast Voice…

Fairly recently, while sitting down to the dinner table with a local chef friend, Julie, the introduction to this term and the feast of scorpacciata began. Julie spent most of her cooking career in San Diego and grew up in Ashtabula, Oh. Having moved back to NE Ohio, she now shares her talents and taste with the locals. The essence of the word – to eat locally, abundantly and in season resonates with the soul and taste buds. In fact, many would argue that nothing tastes better than an Ohio tomato fresh off the vine! 

What is good now? Local food is happening all around you! It is a great time to enjoy your local food grocery, market, or neighborhood veggie stand that sits on a road near your house or destination. Ask around to find the best you-pick farms for fresh blueberries right now. Eat some now and throw some in the freezer for later. Garlic was recently harvested and now ready after curing for a few weeks. Tomatoes are coming on strong with basil, eggplants, onions, peppers, squash coming in right next to them…everything you will need for the recipe of the month. And, like scorpacciata…eat it in abundance! Pairs great with some Ohio-grown corn polenta. For dessert, fresh, sweet corn on the cob or a peach cobbler. We all know Ohio sweet corn is fabulous but did you know Ohio-grown peaches are delicious, too? Local wine, beer and spirits – found in and about the local food scene, make for a fabulous and festive feast. 

Watch out – eating so many fresh foods, that are in season, and so tasty, may make you a bit of a food snob. Your taste buds may become accustomed to the bright tones, rich flavor and sweet crunch of local food. You may have to ask, at the next meal you attend, from where are they getting their tomatoes? Or, gasp, you may find yourself growing your own. Then, you can invite your friends to your own scorpacciata…and indulge in the sweet abundance of local and seasonal food!

Makings of ratatouille – local foods in abundance – eaten in season – garden scape 2022 

Ratatouille – the recipe of Mediterranean Vegetable Stew with NE Ohio local veggies and herbs

For scorpacciata fun – go to the farmers’ market nearest you and procure the veggies for this dish there. Get to know your local farmers and/or try growing some herbs for yourself! 

Olive Oil 

1 head fresh garlic 

2 c. onion – diced

1 medium eggplant  or 2 small, long eggplants 

1 ½ t. Salt 

Handful  to a bunch of fresh basil (or, 1 ½ t. dry) 

3 Tablespoons of fresh oregano or 1 t. Dry

½ teaspoon of Rosemary

½ teaspoon of Thyme or 1 Tablespoon of fresh Savory 

1 medium zucchini 

2 medium bell peppers cut – diced 

Fresh ground black pepper 

4-5 fresh and local  tomatoes

1 fresh chili pepper – minced, or, 

Optional – freshly minced parsley 

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot with a lid or Dutch oven/deep skillet. Add onion and saute over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cayenne and give it a good stir. 
  2. Add eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, salt and herbs and stir. Continue to cook over medium heat for 5-15 minutes depending on how long it takes to get eggplant soft. Add the rest of the ingredients. 
  3. Cover and simmer until all vegetables are tender. 
  4. Serve hot over a bed of polenta, salad greens or basmati rice. 
  5. Enjoy the fruits of Ohio summer!

Join us, with Julie Meola, for a demonstration of Scorpacciata! at Harbor Gardens on Friday, August 12th at 6pm. Register here!