It wasn’t until last summer that I discovered how easy it was to throw together a batch of ratatouille. The discovery came about more or less as an act of self-defense while trying to cope with the weekly bounty of a CSA (community supported agriculture for the uninitiated). Even though I had signed up for just a half share, I soon found myself in semi-desparate straights trying to figure out ways to use up the overflowing bag of vegetables I was bringing home each week.
This year I did not sign up for the CSA, but I did plant a garden which yielded lots of tomatoes. I’ve yet to realize much success with eggplant, thanks to the flea beetles, and I kept forgetting to plant the zucchini until it was too late in the season. But no matter. The market isn’t far and the tomatoes were demanding attention.
What I use is more of a formula than a recipe. It seems that every cookbook featuring ratatouille has a slightly different version, but in general they all include the same master ingredients. Quantities of each are somewhat flexible.
For this batch I started with chopping a medium-sized onion. Swirl a little olive oil in a pot and toss in the onion to sauté gently. After the onion has softened a bit, add in the garlic. Soon the kitchen smells heavenly, unless you really hate garlic, in which case you should just stop reading now.
Next up is the eggplant and zucchini. I had two small eggplant and one medium zucchini. Since the eggplant were small I didn’t peel them. Next time I will. Japanese varieties tend to have more tender skin that regular eggplant. These were not the Japanese variety and the skins were a little tougher than I though they’d be. Since I had it, I added a small yellow squash, too.
After sautéing for several more minutes, I added lots of seeded and finely chopped tomatoes. What you see here is about half of what actually went into the pot.
Stir it all around and bring to a simmer. The final addition was a generous sprinkling of dried oregano and even more Sun of Italy Italian seasoning blend. Stir well. Turn down the heat so things stay at a gently bubbling simmer. Put a lid on the pot, but leave it at an angle so there’s room for steam to escape.
By now the entire house smells absolutely wonderful and even the cat is starting to think vegetables might be the thing.
If you’re still following along you might be wondering what happened to the peppers. Seems they got left in the refrigerator drawer this time around. Had I thought to get them out I would have added them with the onion. Did I mention how flexible ratatouille recipes are? In with the yellow squash and out with the peppers. It’s still good. Eat a steaming bowl as is or spoon it over some linguini and pass the grated parmesan.