Friday, August 5, 2011

Gardener's Ratatouille

Ratatouille is the quintessential vegetable dish from the south of France, and perfect for fresh summer produce.  Originally from the area around Nice, the dish consists of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and fresh herbs.  As a side note, canned ratatouille (available in any French grocery store) was a life saver for me as a vegan when I lived in France in 2006, so the dish has a special place in my heart.  Needless to say, preparing your own batch fresh in the summer is even better than the canned version - bonus points if you grow any of the following in your own garden (and hence the title of the recipe).

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cups chopped plum tomato
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped eggplant
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes.  Add the tomato, eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and garlic.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Note: the simmering is a product of the liquid rendered from the vegetables themselves, so don't be surprised by this step, given the fact that no liquid is added into this recipe.  You can see the difference between the vegetables at the beginning and end based on my two photos in this post.

2. Stir in the oregano, basil, parsley, salt, and black pepper.  Cook, uncovered, for a final 5 minutes, until the liquid is nearly all evaporated.

Ratatouille is traditionally served as a side dish, but also makes a great centerpiece for a vegan meal.  Add a hearty bread like rosemary focaccia on the side.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (about 3/4 cup), Calories 91

Tasting Notes:
Delicious fresh vegetables, but I found the spices and herbs sadly lacking in this version.  I recommend being liberal with the oregano, basil, and parsley, rather than sticking to the quantities above.  You might even consider tying together a bouquet garni and leaving it in the skillet during the whole simmering process, rather than adding the herbs so close to the end.  


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