|Eat the rainbow!
Ratatouille is the hot vegetarian side dish of the moment. Really. Would I lie to you? When your weekly farmers market loot resembles the rainbow on my cutting board (left), how could you not want to showcase as many seasonal vegetables as possible? This recipe allows you to use whatever combination of squash, tomatoes, and eggplant that you might have on hand.
Ratatouille (rat – a – too – ee) is originally a French dish and the translation is very roughly “Eggplant Casserole.” The French word for eggplant is aubergine (not quite a match…) but the French word for “stir” or “twirl” is touiller so that part of the word makes sense in that this recipe stirs a lot of veggies together.
If you cook this ratatouille in the traditional Julia Child style, you will not end up with bright veggies like the ones in my photo (right). The traditional method of preparing ratatouille involves individually cooking all of the components and then combining them into a casserole and letting the flavors come together until the flavors are heightened but the color is quite dull. That approach takes far too long for me! And, when your vegetables look so bright and colorful, I hate to cook the life (and the nutrients) out of them.
This modern-day version of ratatouille only takes about 15 minutes to make on the stove. It shares some similarity with the traditional version in that you can let it sit for hours and it will just get better and better. Trust me. The Grill Master promised me that he would be home really early so we could have a family dinner. Not so much… however, the ratatouille held up very well just sitting in a covered pan on the stove for a couple of hours.
This recipe is one of those recipes that isn’t much of a recipe – substitute veggies as needed…
|Oregano by the back door
I chopped up one large white eggplant. 3 small pattypan squash, 1 large onion, 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, and 3 tomatoes. I gently sauteed all of the vegetables together in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, tossed in a bay leaf and some fresh oregano, sprinkled a little bit of sea salt over the top, and let it simmer on very low for about 15 minutes. I was trying to get the veggies to be very tender yet still retain their bright colors. About 15 minutes did the trick and I kept an eye on it the entire time.
As I mentioned above, I set this aside for about 2 hours and it tasted great! We served our skillet ratatouille with burgers from the grill. It was a really nice and simple side dish for a weeknight meal. Enjoy!