Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ratatouille (rat-uh-TOO-ee)

Vegetable Extravaganza

The produce section at Jungle Jim's is a vegetable lover's paradise! Resisting the temptation to purchase colorful and fragrant produce is unnecessary if you have just the right dish to make when you get home. This plentiful pile of produce was two arm-loads full and begged to be photographed before being transformed into a quick and easy ratatouille. 

Ratatouille is a popular dish from the French region of Provence that combines eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic and herbs. The vegetables can vary according to the cook and availability. Our selection in the photo above included the traditional eggplant, onions, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers and tomatoes. Cooking methods are not fussy - they can be cooked together or cooked separately and then combined and heated briefly together.

Ratatouille is an economical and healthy dish to prepare. If you haven't visited the reduced section at Jungle Jim's, you should make a swing through it. Most times of the year, you can find all the ripe produce needed for ratatouille and supplementing with vegetables and herbs from your own garden can reduce the bottom line cost. 

Served cold, warm or at room temperature, ratatouille is a perfect picnic food or potluck dish that will please the vegans, vegetarians and carnivores in your group. If you need some extra serving ideas, we suggest:

  • served as a side dish, warm or room temperature with fish, chicken or pork
  • bruschetta or crostini appetizers
  • combined with cheese as a tart filling
  • strudel/phyllo filling
  • dusted with parmesan cheese over pasta
  • topped with baked eggs
  • ladled over bowls of  polenta

The Cooking School's Simple Ratatouille

1/4 cup olive oil, divided use
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves, minced garlic
1 medium eggplant with skin on, cut in 1-inch dice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 yellow bell pepper, cut in 1-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, cut in 1-inch dice
2 medium zucchini, sliced in ½-inch coins
6-8 Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut in 1-inch dice
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the eggplant and thyme and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and zucchini and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 4 cups

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