Rat-a-what no longer

Thanks to Remy, the medley of vegetables that is ratatouille that had been indelibly imprinted on my taste buds almost a decade ago, was no longer just another unpronounceable French dish. I empathized completely with Ego as he ate every spoonful of ratatouille, even though I prefer the chunky version to the layered confit byaldi that was served to him in the movie. Mmmmmm!


Recently I came home with $10 loot from the Louisville Farmers Market. It contained 7 green bell peppers, which by themselves would have cost me $7 anywhere else. Then there were large succulent zucchinis and gorgeous farm fresh tomatoes. All locally grown. I supplemented these with an eggplant from the grocery store and other veggies that I had at home to make the best ratatouille ever! Most of this ratatouille went to one of my neighbors whose little boy decided to announce his arrival 2 months before his time. Along with it went lentil stew, pasta salad and Greek pitas. I think I was really lucky to have chanced upon such fresh, locally grown veggies just in time for my turn on the dinner calendar for my neighbors. I think I received well before I was able to pay it forward.



Ratatouille

(based on Ratatouille Provençale from The Joy of Cooking)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil (+ another 2 tbsp, if desired)
  • 1 medium eggplant, diced into 1 inch pieces (approx 1lb)
  • 1 lb zucchini, also diced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1.5 cups sliced onions
  • 2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch squares
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1.5 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or
    1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley, optional
  1. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot over high heat.
  2. Add eggplant and zucchini chunks. Cook until golden and just tender, stirring frequently, about 10-12 minutes.
  3. Remove cooked vegetables carefully to a large plate, draining the oil back into the pot as much as possible. Turn down the heat to medium-high.
  4. Add additional 2 tbsp olive oil only if required.
  5. Add sliced onions and cook until the onions are slightly softened.
  6. Add bell peppers and chopped garlic and cook until just tender.
  7. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to suit your taste.
  8. Add the diced tomatoes, rosemary and bay leaf.
  9. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
  10. Add the eggplant and zucchini and toss to coat the vegetables with the onion and tomato mixture.
  11. Cook for another 15-20 minutes until everything is tender.
  12. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Ratatouille is often called a vegetable stew. Serve it over rice or with thick crusty bread or warm pitas to soak up the delicious juices. It can be made dry, too. The choice is yours.



Notes:
  • I chose to use green bell peppers instead of red bell peppers since that is what I had on hand. Red bell peppers add color to this dish.
  • The original recipe called for peeling the eggplant but I chose not to. If you have issues with the thick peel, take it off and then dice the eggplant into 1 inch chunks.
  • Once I had shared with my neighbors, I added some crushed red pepper to the ratatouille to up the heat a little bit.


To those who thought and still think - and there are quite a few that fall into the latter category, believe me - that the animated Rat Chef was called Ratatouille? I am really sorry for you. Truly. But don't let that stop you from recreating it.

I am sending this colorful ratatouille made mainly of locally grown vegetables to Beth of Muffin Love for her event, Living la Vida Local.

Tomorrow, July 15, is the last day for the fund raiser for Bri.

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12 comments:

Anita said...

You do believe in shocking and awe-ing!
And what a wonderfully fresh recipe! I think I made a version one time...following Pel's zucchini-tomato stew. Very yum - how can you go wrong with onions, tomatoes, and zucchini in olive oil? I'd like some bread with it for sure...

Stella Devine said...

Yum! Summer vegetables... will it ever be summer here again?

Anita said...

...and I really like that bag with beads and kauri shells...

A&N said...

Wow so nice and colorful! And for 10 bucks, that IS a loot :)

Mythili said...

I *LOVE* that movie..we hadn't played it after "the" incident.. but Anton Ego and his words totally rock! Sigh.

And what a lovely creation! Awesome. Why don't you live in WA? It's like CO, you know, only a lot more wet :D

Mythili said...

I had to come back and post this:
[Mustafa is the character waiting on Anton Ego]
Sorry for spamming .. but this is brilliant :)

Mustafa: Do you know what you would like this evening, sir?
Ego: Yes, I think I do. After hearing a lot of over-heated puffery about your new cook, do you know what I'm craving? A little... perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?
Mustafa: With what, sir?
Ego: Perspective, fresh out, I take it?
[Mustafa is confused and stays silent]
Ego: Very well. Since you are all out of perspective and no one else seems to have it in this bloody town, I'll make you a deal: you provide the food, I'll provide the perspective, which would go nicely with a bottle of Cheval Blanc 1947.

musical said...

Very hearty recipe and that's quite a loot from the Farmer's Market. It always does wonders to my mood to see such fresh produce :).

Oh, and you are one caring neighbor. And this is certainly a delightful dish to share.

Cynthia said...

I need to have a neighbour like you!

UmaKumar said...

Sent you a mail on Yahoo, don't know if you got it...

KayKat said...

Ratatouille is definitely one of those recipes that is completely driven by the freshness of the veggies thrown into it - a perfect treat when one can hit the farmers' markets.

BTW, I'm a sucker for the layered version :)

Manisha said...

Anita, the bag is from Kenya. And yes, a very refreshing recipe!

Stella, you will no doubt hear me whine when you're sipping on iced tea and enjoying fresh produce!

A&N, you are my new best friend!

Mythili, I'm not like Bee, you know. I won't block you - I can't even if I wanted to :-D And Colorado works very well for me currently. When the aquifer runs dry, I will come to Seattle to enjoy the rain.

Musy, anything to set the right mood for you! And it's not just me, it's the 'hood we live in. We're always there for each other.

Cynthia, and I you!

Uma, found your email! Woman, it's been ages!

KayKat too much work for that layered version! I am lazy and it's also just too hot to cook. But let's see your layered version and I might be tempted to try it!

Nima Kumar said...

Awesome stew....rich and colorful:)