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Monday, July 22, 2013


Kathryn Barrett reluctantly put aside childhood dreams of becoming an author and took a more practical approach, majoring in Business Administration in college. But after marrying an Air Force officer, she realized a career in high finance didn’t suit an itinerant lifestyle. She happily returned to her first love, writing stories that feature larger-than-life characters, family relationships, and of course, a happy ending. Learn more about Kathryn and her books at her website. – AP 

Have you ever found a hobby that you become passionate about? I have—and now I have enough cross-stitched cats to remind myself not to get too carried away.

In my novel Temptation, the protagonist, Laura Hayes, plants a garden, and in the process finds inner peace, a sense of purpose, and more zucchini than she can give away.

Sound familiar? The problem with vegetable gardens is an abundance of vegetables, at least during certain weeks. I’m not lucky enough to have a vegetable garden where I live, but I do have friends who share their bounty with me. There’s something magical about fresh-picked vegetables. The taste of supermarket veg just isn’t the same.

Laura, being a novice gardener, ends up with lots of zucchini and eggplant, and a meddlesome mother who visits (and tries to put the kibosh on Laura’s burgeoning relationship—but that’s another story!). Laura uses her bounty to make ratatouille for her mother—a perfect way to consume an excess of garden produce.

Ratatouille is one of my favorite ways to cook eggplant, and this method of roasting the vegetables is ridiculously easy. My only advice is, if you wish to make more than four servings, use a bigger pan or even two pans, since the vegetables start out rather large and shrink during the roasting process.

Bon app├ętit!

Roasted Ratatouille

1 red onion
1 eggplant (no need to peel)
1 zucchini
1 red or orange pepper
about 20 cherry tomatoes, or a similar amount of regular tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/2 teaspoon each: dried rosemary, thyme, oregano
olive oil (about ¼ cup)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil leaves, for serving
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Cut all the vegetables into bite sized pieces. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. In a large baking dish or baking pan, pour enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. (It’s a good idea to spray first with cooking spray, for easier clean-up.)
Place the vegetables in the dish and pour more olive oil over the top, tossing the vegetables until they’re more or less coated with olive oil.
Sprinkle the dried herbs on top. (I often use herbes de provence, which is a combination of several dried herbs.) Cover with aluminum foil.
Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 45 minutes, stirring about half way through. Remove the foil and bake another 30 minutes, until the vegetables are beginning to turn brown and are softened.
Serve with more olive oil and fresh basil or other herbs, salt and pepper, and a good red wine.
Laura Hayes has been acting since she was in diapers, and acting up almost as long. When she moves to Pennsylvania’s Amish country to film her next movie, she discovers there’s more to life than a pair of Jimmy Choos and a Marie Claire cover.
Intrigued by the Amish simplicity, she’s soon putting in a garden, dodging earthworms and garter snakes. And when her neighbor turns out to be the local heartthrob as well as a talented furniture maker, she realizes that what’s missing from her life might be the love of a good man—not to mention the perfect heirloom tomato.
Jacob is trying hard not to question the teachings of his Amish faith, despite a desire to create furniture that looks like it belongs in a museum rather than the local tourist shop. As his attraction for his neighbor grows, so do his doubts, until he’s forced to face Temptation.


judyalter said...

Unusual but great premise for a book. All that zucchini made me smile--we did it once with green beans. Thanks for the recipe--okay if I omit the bell pepper?

Marsha said...

Hey, Kathryn. Nice to know some people know how to spell that name. Gave it to my older daughter. :) I'll share your recipe with my younger daughter, who's always looking at creative ways to prepare vegies. I was surprised at how long you had to cook this dish. Doesn't it come out all mushy. The book sounds delightful. I'll be checking it out.

Shari Randall said...

Book looks great and so does the recipe. Thanks so much!

Unknown said...

Hi Kathryn, thanks for this recipe. Ratatouille is one of my favorites and I'd forgotten about it. Used to get the veggies out of the garden when I lived in Europe and the kitchen aromas were to die for! Best of luck with your book. Awesome cover!

Kathryn Barrett said...

Judy, yes, leave out the bell pepper if you're a bell pepper hater! Maybe use a larger eggplant, an extra zucchini, to make up the difference.

Marsha, roasting in the oven really does bring out flavor without the mushiness you get from stovetop cooking. Plus there isn't any added liquid, so I think you'll find the veggies cook without the mush.

Shari, you're welcome!

Thanks, Gemma! I live in Europe now but have to rely on the really great farmers markets as I can't have a proper garden here with the shade!

Edith Maxwell said...

THanks! Making it now. I usually do mine on the stovetop, so it will be a fun comparison to roast it, instead.

Kathy said...

I just ordered your e-book from Amazon. I love reading anything with the Amish in it and can wait to start Temptation.

Kathy said...

Oops, that was can't wait.

Kathryn Barrett said...

Edith, I hope you like it! I find almost any vegetable is better roasted than stir fried or cooked on the stove. Really brings out the sweetness!

And Kathy, I hope you like it too!