Market Vegetable Mélange with Chicken

An original recipe by CSA member Melanie Suksomnil

Courtesy Melanie Suksomnil
Courtesy Melanie Suksomnil

A rustic homage to late summer produce, this recipe is incredibly flexible and can be customized to whatever the season’s harvest (or trip to the grocery store) has brought to your kitchen. For a vegan/vegetarian version, substitute the chicken with largely diced oyster mushrooms or simply omit the chicken!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
6 skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 bunch baby leeks, wash thoroughly to remove sand and thinly chopped
8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 sweet red long pepper, cut into 1-inch squares (can substitute bell pepper)
1 sweet green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
2 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise and cut into ½” thick slices
1 small eggplant, quartered lengthwise and cut into ½” thick slices
2 large heirloom tomatoes, peeled* and chopped
½ pound green string beans
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped –or- ½ teaspoon dried basil
6 sprigs fresh thyme, with tough stems removed then chopped –or- ½ teaspoon dried
thyme
¼ cup fresh oregano, chopped –or- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon celery seed (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced (optional, for garnish)

Directions

1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven (or large, heavy skillet) over medium heat. Add chicken and brown, about 3 minutes each side. Transfer chicken to a bowl and set aside.

2. Add remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, onion, leeks, and garlic to the pot and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes or until onions start to become translucent. Add the red long pepper, green bell pepper, and zucchini and cook 5 minutes longer. Transfer at least half of these vegetables to the bowl with the chicken.

3. Add eggplant to the pot and cook 5 minutes or until eggplant begins to turn golden. Add heirloom tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme and celery seed. Bring to rapid simmer, then lower heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Add chicken and reserved vegetables back to the pot. Cover and simmer additional 15 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and is beginning to fall away from bone.

5. Add green string beans, stirring them in and cooking until they become vibrant green, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper then (being careful not to burn your tongue!) taste to make sure it’s to your liking.

6. If you don’t need to thicken the mélange (see note below), you’re ready to serve! Garnish with the fresh parsley at serving time.

Serving suggestion: Serve over rice or egg noodles, though any cooked whole grain accompaniment will work nicely. You can also serve with a hearty whole-grain bread or crusty French baguette.

If your tomatoes are extra juicy and the finished mélange is too soupy for your taste, combine ¼ cup water with 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour in a cup and whisk until combined (this is a “slurry”). Pour the slurry into the still bubbling pot and simmer over medium-low heat while stirring constantly until mélange has thickened; this will take a minute or two.

*To quickly peel the tomatoes, score a large “X” on the bottom of each then immerse in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove tomatoes from boiling water with a spider and plunge into a bowl filled with cold water (straight from the tap is fine). The skins should slip right off!

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