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A Season Ripe for Ratatouille

Posted on: May 20th, 2013 by Robin

photo (9) (1)As we settle into late Spring, let’s enjoy a versatile and traditional dish from France. Straight from Provence, this dish is called ratatouille and is pronounced “rat-a-TOO-ee.” It happens to be quite nutritious, but you don’t have to share that with the kids! You can serve this cold at a picnic or hot over brown rice as a main course, or as a tasty side dish with a roasted chicken. It’s also pretty, with purple, green, red and yellow colors. While there are many versions of this recipe, this is mine:

1 lb. eggplant, washed and cut into cubes (do not peel)
1 lb. zucchini, washed and cut into cubes (do not peel)
2 medium onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pepper, washed, seeded and sliced into strips
1/4 cup olive oil, divided in half
Salt and pepper, to taste
Basil and parsley, chopped (can be fresh or dried–about 1 tsp each if dried –and about 1 to 2 tablespoons if fresh)
15 oz. can of chopped tomatoes (I used fire-roasted for some kick)
1/2 cup prepared tomato sauce
Optional: capers, about  1 tablespoon, rinsed, added at end.

Start by slowly sauteing the onions, pepper and garlic with half the olive oil in a saute pan. Cook till completely soft.

In a separate pan, use the remainder of the olive oil to cook the eggplant, then the zucchini, till soft. It is ok to lightly brown the veggies, then cover and cook on low also until soft. When you can easily put a fork through them, add in the soft onion garlic mixture. Stir, then add the canned tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Cook on low for 20 minutes. Add herbs and salt and pepper to taste. If serving as a main course, serve over a whole grain, such as brown rice or quinoa or whole wheat couscous. This stew will improve its flavor after 24 hours.

Kitchen helper tasks: Every vegetable needs a good scrubbing to clean off the dirt. Use a veggie brush. The tops of tin cans must also be washed before opening. Zucchini is an easy veggie to cut and, under adult supervision, children can do this. Remember to keep a flat side of the vegetable on the cutting board so that it does not move while you are cutting. Children can also help with sauteing by using a spatula to turn the vegetable cubes every five minutes, and learning to gauge the heat.

If you’ve seen the terrific movie of the same name, you might recall that it’s THIS dish that wins the heart of the severe old restaurant critic, because it reminds him of his childhood. You might have a fun conversation around your dinner table about favorite childhood meals, and why we remember them with love!



Robin is a certified professional chef and 2011 graduate of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. Prior to that, she enjoyed a career as mom, director of adult education for her town and director of religious education for her church. She can make puff pastry, classic French food, Italian peasant food, ice cream and really good PB&J. A devout believer in lifelong learning, she loves to try new foods, recipes and techniques, and invite her friends and family to come over for a bite.