Make Tender Green's Ratatouille for Your Summer Picnic


Tender Greens is known for serving delicious farm-to-table fare in a fast-casual setting. You can always find locally grown greens and vegetables, sustainably raised meats, and freshly baked desserts at all seven locations, and eating there won't break the bank. But there's something new on the menu in Hollywood: once-a-month summer barbecues on the patio.

So far, chef Eric Hulme has roasted a whole lamb and a heritage pig, with wild boar on tap for Father's Day (June 19), goat, lamb, and fowl on tap for the rest of the summer. The dinner is festive and laid-back, with an array of salads and side dishes all served family-style. They do all the work, you have all the fun.

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Like everything served at Tender Greens, the salads and sides are on the healthier side, and take full advantage of whatever the chefs find at the farmers' markets. An upcoming menu will have black quinoa with shaved vegetables, ricotta-stuffed fried squash blossoms, and a Scarborough Farm--one of the local farms the restaurant directly works with--heirloom tomato panzanella salad.

At the May barbecue, the ratatouille was a huge hit. It's full of summer squash, tomatoes, eggplant and onion drizzled in herbs and olive oil--basically summer on a plate. And because everything is cooked on the grill first and served at room temperature, it's the perfect picnic dish, whether for the Hollywood Bowl, the beach or your backyard. Here's the recipe to try at home:

Summer Squash "Fresh" Ratatouille
Recipe adapted from Tender Greens
Makes 4 to 6 servings

3 to 5 various summer squash (zucchini, patty pan, yellow), diced into 2-inch chunks
1 small Chinese eggplant, diced into 2-inch chunks
1 white heirloom eggplant, diced into 2-inch chunks
2 large heirloom tomatoes (any variety)
1 medium sweet onion (torpedo or Vidalia), quartered
2 to 3 sprigs fresh oregano leaves, de-stemmed and leaves chopped
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
5 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and sliced
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1. Light the grill to high. In a large bowl, toss the squash, eggplant and onion with ½ cup of olive oil, the oregano, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Cook the vegetables until nicely caramelized on the outside but still retaining texture, about 3 to 4 minutes. Take off the grill and set aside in a bowl.

2. Remove the stem core of the tomatoes and cut a small "x" in the bottom. Brush lightly with olive oil and place on the grill, turning each every 2 to 3 minutes, until all sides get a nice char. Take off grill and let cool for a few minutes. The tomato skin will look blistered; peel away the skin. Cut into 1-inch chunks and add to bowl of warm veggies.

3. In a pan over medium heat, add the rest of the olive oil and sliced garlic. Cook until the garlic is blonde in color, and add chopped parsley and cook until it crackles (about 10 seconds). Remove pan from heat. Add the herb-garlic oil to the vegetables, season with additional salt and pepper to taste, and then let sit for an hour to let flavors come together. Serve at room temperature.

The next patio barbecue ($35 per person) takes place at Tender Greens Hollywood on June 19 from 5 to 9 p.m. Make reservations by calling 323-382-0380.

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