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
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)
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. Great cold the next day; aging in the fridge melds the flavors together.