Featured Food: Zucchini for Zucchini week
Ratatouille makes me smile from the beginning. I catch myself grinning as I chop eggplant and slice green peppers. I admit there is always a certain silent zen that I achieve when I am chopping veggies but the thought of making this dish my French grandmother used to make for me, brings me sheer joy. Perhaps you have a dish that brings you joy from the making all the way to the eating. Hopefully, this post will inspire you to go make your happy food. My first bite of a perfect ratatouille is the beautiful fusion of memory and present. I just wish my kids could experience the same ratatouille nirvana. Someday, I tell myself, they will totally get it. For now, they at least love the couscous I serve it on.
I know every foodie out there knows how to make ratatouille. But this is the recipe my French Grandma Mimi who grew up in Morocco taught my mother, her daughter-in-law, and I love it. My family version takes about half an hour to cook. Although it is all about the fresh veggies and there are few pantry items in sight, most of the ingredients can come straight from the garden and I believe a garden is a living pantry. I do so love summer when so fewer things come out of a box or a can. I did have to go buy the eggplant. But only because last year when I grew eggplant I was the only one in the family eating it. This year I decided to give more space to a more well loved veggie, cucumbers.
Grandma Mimi's Ratatouille (I halved my recipe because this really does make a lot)
1 Tb Olive Oil
1 eggplant cubed
2 medium zucchini cubed
2 medium onions sliced
1 green pepper sliced
1 to 2 med tomatoes cubed ( I actually used some of my canned tomatoes)
1- 8 oz can of tomato sauce
Dash of cumin (you really need the cumin but don't overdo it)
1 tsp of garlic powder or a little more to taste.
Dash of salt.
Prepare eggplant by peeling and chopping into cubes. Place a layer of eggplant in strainer and sprinkle with salt. Repeat layers and salt. Let sit over a bowl or in sink for 10 minutes. Drain. This process reduces the bitter flavor of eggplant.
Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat. Saute onion 2 to 3 minutes. Add green pepper; saute 2 to 3 minutes. Add zucchini and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, eggplant, and spices. Stir well and cook over medium low heat for about 15 minutes or until veggies are tender/crisp. Stir often but you can cover between stirring.
Serve over rice or couscous.
TIP: Ratatouille makes a great vegetarian meal and the leftovers make an even better low cal lunch the next day.