Ratatouille Is Summer on A Plate!

Summer time is the best time to cook with garden produce; makes the most sense, that’s when they are at their peak of quality and variety. I love to make this dish every year in the late summer particularly when I have most of the vegetables growing in my garden.  Ratatouille is a French dish made of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, peppers and lots of olive oil and basil. To me it tastes more Italian with all those veggies and the olive oil and basil. It’s a great side dish with grilled meats or fish and I love it inside an omelet or alongside a slice of quiche.  And yes, I know there was a kids movie out in 2007 by the same name.  Disney even came out with their own recipe for ratatouille!

Lots of veggie chopping for this delicious dish and then you should stir it carefully as the mixture cooks in a big pan. I like to make it in a wok or paella dish. I have a Teflon paella dish that I use these days; holds a lot and things don’t stick to it.

Tips: The amounts are somewhat fluid; I don’t really measure the veggies; just use an approximate amount. Be sure to cook the eggplant until it is mostly done before proceeding to the next step or your dish will be less than stellar.  You can use red, orange, yellow or green bell peppers and yellow summer squash works just as good as zucchini. I used a huge pale green bell pepper in my photographed version. Just makes sure all your vegetables are fresh and best quality.

 

 

 

 

Ratatouille  by Angela, makes about six servings

Ingredients:

2 medium onions

4 tbsp. olive oil divided

1 large eggplant – cut into rounds and then across into ½ in slices (don’t peel)

1 med zucchini  – cut into 1/3 inch rounds and halved

2 large tomatoes, diced

2 garlic cloves – minced

1 large red or green bell pepper- cut into long slices, can half them

1-2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. brown sugar, optional

1 Tbsp. dried basil

1 tsp. sea salt (to taste)

Directions:

Put 3 tbsp. of the oil in a large frying pan; 16 inch or wok works well. Add the eggplant slices and toss the slices around to evenly soak up the oil.  Fry turning occasionally; try to get them at least half done and then add the zucchini half moons.  Keep frying until both are just about done.  Turn out into a big bowl.  Add the rest of the olive oil and when it is hot; add the onion bits. Cook about 5-6 min until softening.  Add garlic and cook a minute.  Add the sliced pepper and cook 5-6 minutes until softening.  Add the diced tomato.  Stir well.  Cook about 5-6 minutes and add the tomato paste and sugar, stir well, add back the zuke/eggplants and  until mixture looks mostly done; maybe 10 min.  Add the basil and salt and cook another couple of minutes. spicy tomato jam 006  Great cold the next day; aging in the fridge melds the flavors together.

Originally posted in  September 2016, minor changes in text.

Monk Fish with Ratatouille…Early Fall on a Plate

My mom sometimes made fish for dinner and one of her favorites was monkfish, sometimes called poor man’s lobster. If you google monkfish it is one big ugly black fish. Luckily it tastes pretty good and is a change of pace from the fish I seem to be in a rut of choosing. I can’t remember how my mom made it but I saw this recipe on epicurious and decided to try it with some fresh veggies straight from the garden as a treat for her.  We both love ratatouille so what could be better?

I made a few small changes and cut the ingredient amounts in half for just two (my mom and I).  I was blown away by the rich flavors of the roasted ratatouille and the delicate but meaty monk fish fillet.  I think its nick name is due to the texture which does remind me of lobster, sort of.  It isn’t the most popular of fish (insert salmon her!) but this dish might change your mind and make the list of top ten fish recipes for your family. We ate every bite of the fish and those incredible veggies. I almost forgot to mention; this entree is ridiculously easy to make and is naturally gluten free.  Perfect!

The amounts are flexible; if you love eggplant it could be a bit more and if you have yellow squash instead of zuke that is perfect. I used that skinny Japanese eggplant but any regular eggplant cut in strips and then cubes would be perfect. The original recipe used canned marinara sauce but I chose to use some tomato paste from a tube and the fresh plum tomatoes. I was concerned about having a runny sauce but if you want more liquid add some sauce to thin things down.

I carefully transferred the dish to a glass oven pan and baked it just long enough to get the pan hot before putting on the lid and heading over to where my mom lives.  You don’t have to take that step but this is an easy meal to transport which makes my life a bit easier.

My starch was fire roasted russet potatoes but I am thinking this would be awesome with either gf noodles, gf pasta or rice pilaf.

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I just sprinkled dried basil on top of the veggies. Will stir and add fish before roasting some more. You can add more wine if necessary.

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Capers are on top, in my lidded glass oven dish.

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About to dig in…yes…that’s a paper plate. I am at my mom’s assisted living room……easy clean up. This is just a blog. Not the food network, lol.

Monkfish with Ratatouille

INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes (1.5 cups)

1 cup sliced zucchini

1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium onion, cut into thin segments from top to bottom

2 teaspoon olive oil, divided

Vegetable oil cooking spray

2 to 4 tbsp. dry white wine (or red if you prefer)

1 large clove garlic chopped coarsely

2 tbsp. tomato paste.

3 big plum tomatoes cut into chunks

2 monkfish fillets (about 5-6 ounces each)

1 tsp dried basil or 1.5 tbsp. fresh

1 tablespoon drained capers

PREPARATION

Heat oven to 425°F.

Coat a shallow baking pan with cooking spray. Place eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper and onion on the sheet and drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss a bit…I used a pancake turner to do that operation. Then spread the vegetables out over the pan so they are in a thin layer and roast until tender, about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle with white wine, garlic and tomatoes. Cover loosely with foil and roast 5-10 minutes more. Remove pan from oven. Stir in basil. Lay fish fillets in the middle of the veggies; push them aside first to make a cleared space; drizzle with remaining teaspoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Cook about 10-12 minutes.  Sprinkle with capers and fresh basil if you have some.

I served this with grilled potatoes but if you are low carbing leave off the starch and you won’t be disappointed by the results.