Ratatouille – Fresh Garden Tomatoes, Peppers, Zucchini, and Eggplants all in One Dish
Among the most popular vegetables planted by gardeners are tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and eggplant. Among the reasons that these particular vegetables are popular is the fact that they are easy to grow and each gives a lot of produce while taking up a relatively small area. This is especially valuable for city dwellers who may have only small plots to grow on and do not want to take up a lot of space with crops that will give much less produce per square foot.
Many of the unique varieties of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and eggplant are also give heavy yields. This leads to a problem, that being what do you do with what you have left after you have canned, frozen, and given away the bulk of your crop? You may want to use them all in the same dish. One thing you can make is Ratatouille. Ratatouille is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. The full name of the dish is ratatouille niçoise. According to Wikipedia:
“The word ratatouille comes from Occitan ratatolha and the recipe comes from Occitan cuisine. The French touiller means to toss food. Ratatouille originated in the area around present day Occitan Provença (French: Provence) and Niça (French: Nice); the Catalan samfaina and the Majorcan tombet are versions of the same dish. The southern Italian ciambotta is a related spring vegetable dish.”
Occitan is a language spoken in the South of France.
Ratatouille is a perfect way to get rid of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant that are piling up this time of year. The following is a recipe for Ratatouille from Emeril Lagasse borrowed from the Food Network:
(Emeril Lagasse’s recipe)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
4 to 6 servings.
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups small diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups medium diced eggplant, skin on
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup diced green bell peppers
1 cup diced red bell peppers
1 cup diced zucchini squash
1 cup diced yellow squash
1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Set a large 12-inch saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and garlic to the pan. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted and lightly caramelized, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the eggplant and thyme to the pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is partially cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the green and red peppers, zucchini, and squash and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for a final 5 minutes. Stir well to blend and serve either hot or at room temperature.
Emeril also uses yellow summer squash in his version of this dish. There are many other versions and like I said this is a great way to use all of these popular vegetable up in one dish. Of couse anybody, even those without gardens, can make it asl well. Farmers markets are flush with most of the ingredients above so it is a way to eat local too!