First Friday Free Recipe: Ratatouille
There are about as many ways to make Ratatouille as there are cooks and chefs in the world. There is baked, steamed and simmered, there is chunked, diced and carefully sliced, and there is tomato-based, broth-based and water-based. Ratatouille is one of those dishes you can really make your own. This is my own recipe and one of my favorite dishes to make. Dicing all the vegetables does take time but so well worth it in the finished dish from my cookbook, “Simple Healthy, Fresh 1.0”.
A basic Ratatouille is savory and has eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers, which is similar to a Caponata. A Caponata will have the same eggplant, onion and zucchini and a sweeter version with sugar, some version of dried fruit with red wine vinegar. Again, there will be as many Caponata recipes as there are cooks.
1 large globe eggplant, small dice (I do not salt mine, due to blood pressure and diabetes, but you can, to reduce the bitterness. I like that bitter taste).
Dice small: 1 large red onion, 4-6 large carrots, 2 celery stalks, 2 zucchini, 4 bell peppers (mix colors).
2 14 oz boxes/cans beef broth and water
Garlic–6-8 cloves or as much as you can stand, pressed, minced or sliced. Remember, garlic will sweeten when cooking or roasting.
Spices: 2 sm bay leaf or 1 large, 3-4 tsp ea. BOT, 2-3 tsp Rosemary (if you have a mortar and pestle, roughly grind or use spice grinder. If not, then rub between your palms to activate the oils and aroma when adding to dish).
- Heat garlic in large deep pot in 2 tbsp EVOO until aromatic, then add diced onion. Heat until almost caramelized.
- Add carrots, celery and heat until softened. Add spices at this point and heat for 30 seconds, careful not to burn spices.
- Add zucchini and bell peppers, stir to heat through and coat with oil.
- Add 1/8-1/4 cup EVOO and add diced eggplant and stir gently to thoroughly coat. Eggplant will ‘drink’ up the oil, so you may have to add more. Sometimes I add 8-16 oz sliced mushrooms at this point as well. It depends on what I have in my vegetable drawer in the fridge. Heat again and add stock and water until the soup comes 1″ to rim of pot.
- Simmer for 30 to 60 minutes until colors are bright, broth is shimmering and silky. If wanted, add a small can of low-sodium tomato sauce for enhanced color and flavor.
- Serve with shredded cheese and crusty hard bread.