Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ratatouille - $$

What a classic dish. I’ve been making this since I did my Standard Process diet. Before then I think Ratatouille scared me. The french name alone makes it sound complicated, and this was not something my family cooked a lot growing up… if ever. If you are looking for vegetarian summer goodness – this is it!

I’ve made some tweaks to the traditional recipe that seem to work well for me. Don’t get too excited if you want to try this on a weeknight - this is not what I would call “quick and easy”. Not hard but I would estimate an hour for prep. My biggest struggle with making this dish has been getting all the veggies to cook evenly. If you have a mandolin, this is the time to use it. It’s hard to cut the veggies perfectly even so they are all the same thickness (remember, I’m not a chef!). But my solution has been to add extra liquid to the recipe and a two-part cooking method of starting on the skillet and moving to the oven. I haven’t had a problem with veggies being under cooked with this method.  

Price: Seasonal veggies are key! If you are a member of a CSA or have your own garden, this recipe is cheap. If you go to WF (whole foods) or even the regular grocery, these items can add up quickly. This recipe can easily add up to $15 + if you are starting from scratch buying all the ingredients. Just throwing it out there – you can omit some veggies and still get the same base recipe (example cut the green pepper and eggplant). If i didn't have some of the ingredients on hand because they were in season I wouldn't have made this recipe. Overall if you play your cards right, it shouldn't be expensive at all.

Here is my Ratatouille masterpiece:

So pretty! The tomatoes are from my parents garden. 
1 Large Tomato
1 Medium Green Squash
1 Medium Yellow Squash
1 Medium Eggplant
1 Green or Red Pepper
1 Can Diced Tomatoes (with juice)
½ Red Onion, chopped
¾ cup water
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
3-4 Sprigs Thyme (fresh if possible or 1 Tbsp. dry)
2 Sprigs Basil (fresh if possible or 1 Tbsp. dry)
2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
½ tsp. Black Pepper
½ tsp. Salt
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Chop tomato, squash, eggplant into thin circular pieces. Chop pepper and onion fine.  In large skillet, add water, diced tomato and all chopped vegetables. Mince garlic and add to pot. Use your fingers to strip the leaves off the stem of the thyme and basil. Add to pot. Lastly add red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cook on high until boiling, about 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Turn off heat and transfer ingredients into a glass casserole dish. Place in oven for 25 minutes. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and cook for another 5 minutes, or until melted. 

Quick Tip: “Sweat the Eggplant” Slice eggplant and place in a colander (or if you are really ambitious lay on a baking sheet) sprinkle with salt and let sit 10 minutes.  Dab with paper towel, then add to recipe. This will help take the bitterness out of the eggplant. 

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