We are certainly spoiled here in Northern California with the bounty of produce and fresh herbs. Most of us grow culinary herbs as shrubs in our yards. It makes it so easy to craft excellent dishes that reflect the seasons. I have always felt that one of the biggest improvements home cooks can make to their food is to use more fresh herbs.
One of my favorite side dishes to make in the summer is ratatouille. Our garden is a prolific producer of squash, zucchini, and egg plant. Outside of the basic vegetables you can greatly impact the flavor profile of your dish by what fresh herbs you choose to use. For summer I like a little thyme and oregano. In the winter I use heartier herbs like sage and rosemary.
My basic Ratatouille is made using:
2 summer squash diced
2 zucchini diced
1 onion diced
1 large eggplant diced
Fresh chopped garlic
3 fresh tomatoes diced
1/4 cup of white wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh Herbs chopped (Thyme and Oregano)
This is a really easy and basic dish. Sauteed the onion, zucchini, and squash in olive oil for 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and pepper, and continue to cook for another minute. Finally add the tomatoes and white wine. Let the mixture reduce for several minutes and add in your fresh chopped herbs.