Monday, September 28, 2009

Meatless Monday: Ratatouille

Autumn is starting to show herself here; the leaves are turning topaz and there's a bite in the morning air.

The K and T Family Victory Garden is slowing down, but we still have some beautiful little eggplants, a few stray zucchini and absolutely LOADS of green tomatoes. I'll address the green tomato conundrum in an upcoming post...

There's a lot to love about Ratatouille. It's simple, it's good eaten hot, cold or at room temperature, it's healthy, AND it's a great way to use up tons of stray vegetables left over from a Farmer's Market Moment of Gluttony.

Why do I do it? Why do I go hog-wild and frenzied in the Farmer's Market? I *know* there are only two good vegetable eaters in this household. And yet somehow, I end up with an overflowing basket every time. In this case, I had tomatoes, green and red bell peppers and some not-so-perky celery hanging about, all a bit past their prime.

Another bonus about Ratatouille: it's forgiving. Nobody will know, in the end, that the veggies you sneaked in were just a few days shy of disgrace.

I wasn't sure about throwing the celery into the mix, but then I thought of French food, and how they braise celery all the time, and so I thought--eh? Why not?

I based this recipe on an old Craig Claiborne recipe I found on the Food Network. I added some additional vegetables (eg: celery and red bell peppers) and some herbs, because I thought the original recipe sounded a little bland.

based on Craig Claiborne's recipe
serves 4-6

1/2 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups onions, sliced
1 cup celery, chunked
3 cups zucchini, chunked
4 cups eggplant (peeled if skins are thick) chunked
2 cups green, red or mixed bell peppers, seeded and chunked
3 tablespoons flour
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 28-oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons capers or a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Heat oil in a very large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and the garlic and cook until onions are translucent. Meanwhile, chunk zucchini and eggplant (I didn't peel mine because they were thin-skinned baby guys). Toss zucchini and eggplant in the flour to lightly coat.

Add zucchini, eggplant and peppers to the skillet, stir. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low and slow, and cook 30 minutes.

Add tomatoes (both kinds) and oregano. Cook, covered, 10 minutes. Remove cover, simmer 10 minutes more, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes. Stir in capers or balsamic and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.

*We loved this best slightly warm, almost room temperature, for lunch with a crusty baguette. I showered mine with shards of parmesan and a drizzle of good olive oil. I served it again with grilled sausages, and it only gets better!

**One Monday a month, I'm hoping to post a meatless recipe. It's good on the wallet and it's my payback to Mother Earth for the horrible paper product abuse in my household last week. Atonement, you know.


  1. Sooooooooo pretty! Love the fall colors. And I adore ratatouille, too. My Mom used to make a wicked tofu ratatouille that I still get cravings for. Though I've never been able to make it as tasty as she did. Maybe that was the best part: me not making it? ;)

  2. I LOVE RATATOUILLE! I put about 400 cloves of garlic in mine though and a little fresh grated parmesan (or mozzarella - FRESH MOZZA...)on top before serving on a bed of fresh fettuccine! Okay I need to o home and cook now!

    AND!! I LOVE THE FARMER'S MARKET! I always spend my entire paycheck when I go. LOVE IT!

  3. Hmmmm....yum! I love this! Keep it up! Meatless Monday sounds good!

    As for green tomatoes - I eagerly await that post! I'd also love to read a post about what your children do eat (their favourite foods) and how you have tried to tackle the no-veg no-go situation, I always think about that issue as I know how difficult I was as a child and I'm just thinking - but there has to be a solution right?!! Be interesting to hear your thoughts. I know you've blogged about that in the past but it never fails to interest me! Is that weird?! xxx

  4. YUM!!! I'll have to try it when I can find my pots and pans! :)

  5. This sounds yummy. I like the addition of the parmesan. I'll have to try that!

  6. I know NOTHING about ratatouille. As a matter of fact, the first time I had ever heard of it was that movie. Yours looks much better than what they showed in the movie, though!

  7. Love the idea of Meatless monday! The ratatouille looks amazing, and I can SO identify with buying way to much produce at the Farmer's market. Even going in with a list hasn't stopped my hog-wild ways!

  8. I am all over this. Ben's trying to go meatless more and I need more veggies.

    And for the Texas Ranch Casserole--cooked chicken breasts. I boiled and chopped mine, but grilled or baked could work too.

  9. I also use ratatouille as a way to get rid of vegetables... and trust me, you are not the only one who's sometimes over-zealous at the farmers market!

  10. Can you believe I've never eaten ratatouille? It's a shame, I know. My family won't go meatless, but the good news is they generally love veggies. So this looks like a good one to try. (As a side for meat, of course!)

  11. I do the same thing!! HOG I've never seen a homegrown fruit or veg before in my life. Luckily they go fast. But sometimes I think too fst. Ah well...your ratatouille looks & sounds brilliant :D

  12. I love ratatouille, and I love those capers in there....I always sprinkle a bit of Parmesan on top (for some extra calories).

  13. We go meatless a lot, but I've never done rataouille.

    Forgiving recipe and vegetables just shy of disgrace?! I'm in.

  14. I am not a big veggie eater but I go overboard at the farmers market too. It all looks so good. This is a nice way to use them.

  15. This sounds and looks so delicious!!

  16. I'm going to have to try this. I've never eaten ratatouille, let alone cooked it, but it looks great. And I too go nutty at our Farmer's Market every Monday of the year. At the market yesterday, I purposely limited myself to fruit since we have a lot of leftovers and I didn't want beautiful veggies wilting in the fridge. Although I can always feed the wilted greens to our lizard . . .

  17. OMG, this looks tasty. If I could cook, I'll make it. Maybe I can talk wifey into it! :-)

  18. I'm with Kathy B!...I desperately need forgiving, easy veggie recipes. Yay for Monday, and yay for my first go, tomorrow, at ratatouille. We're vegetarians stuck in a rut and I heart you, KW!

  19. Looks wonderful! I've never had ratatouille or made it before (I haven't even seen the movie, lol). I love the farmers market, I usually end up roasting the vegetables. This is a nice way to use them, I'll have to try it.

  20. Congrats on the foodie blogroll listing, honey! You're awesome!

  21. Veggies just a few days shy of disgrace? It's like you were posting this after taking a look around my kitchen.

  22. yeah, what ck said.

    and, um, you put me to shame every time i read one of your posts. seriously, where does all this motivation to cook come from. and can i get some?