Not enough thyme for Brown Rice and Ratatouille?

I haven’t cooked a proper meal in more than a week! No wonder I’ve been feeling cranky. We’re still hitting up the farmers markets, though, so it was high time to cook up the inventory on hand. I pulled out everything that looked good, and by the time I had it all lined up, I knew what I was going to do: saute enough summer vegetables to call it ratatouille, and cook up some brown rice with mushrooms.

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From the fridge: a pound of thin Japanese eggplant, a pound of Cousa squash with a couple spots, two wrinkly poblano peppers, two longhorn green peppers, a wrinkly red bell pepper, a bowl of lamb broth, a small chunk of roast turkey breast.

From the pantry: two shallots that were starting to feel a bit squishy, one cup long-grain brown rice, a handful of dried shiitake, one yellow onion.

From the garden: four 4 oz tomatoes, a handful of thyme, one scallion.

I’m not yet used to cooking brown rice, so I soaked the mushrooms and roasted the poblanos while looking up recipes. I really liked the idea in this one of laying a bunch of fresh thyme on top of the rice as it cooks was especially appealing. So I cleaned up the shallots and sauteed them in the fat from the lamb broth. I dry-fried the rice and with the sliced mushrooms. Meanwhile the broth was heating up; that plus the mushroom soak and some water to make two cups went into the pot. Then a teaspoon of salt. I laid the thyme on top, then covered and let it simmer for 45 minutes.

While the rice was cooking, I heated up the reliable old cast iron pan. Add a bit of olive oil. Chop onion, add that. Slice eggplant, add that. Stir the contents of the pan. Add a teaspoon of salt to get the juices flowing. Slice squash, add that. This time stirring the pan really means carefully turning everything over so it cooks evenly. Chop tomatoes, add that. Turn it all over. Peel and mince poblanos, add that. Turn it all over. Slice up longhorns, add that. Turn it all over. By now, it’s been simmering for a while and the eggplants are nice and dark. Add a teaspoon of oregano and cover. Oops, nearly forget the turkey. Cube it and stir it in. Cover again. Dice the red pepper and save for the end.

The thyme on the rice smelled wonderful while it cooked. When the timer went off, I removed the thyme and scattered chopped scallion over the rice. Then turned off the heat and let it steam another 10 minutes. That’s about when I added the red pepper to the ratatouille and mixed it in.

Then it’s dinnertime. Yum. Except I couldn’t taste the thyme. I should have known. I always want more thyme.

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