Garden Fresh Ratatouille

Did you see Ratatouille, that wonderful Pixar/Disney animated film that was released in 2007?  In it, a French rat named Remy turned into an amazing rodent chef who delighted the palettes of many a human. He wasn't afraid to experiment in the kitchen by adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  And of course, his culinary creations drew rave reviews.

Before Ratatouille became a well known film, ratatouille was a French Provencal vegetable stew made with eggplant, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes.  I'd never made it until last year.  I always held the preconceived notion that eggplant was rather blah unless deep fat fried and smothered with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. When I tasted the first bite of homemade ratatouille, I couldn't believe how those flavors came together to form a great big Yum.

As I was walking through all the colorful fresh vegetables starting to ripen in my dad's garden, I realized that there was almost everything I needed to give my parents their first encounter with Ratatouille. Taking my cues from Remy, I tasted and tweaked the flavors until I was happy.

Ratatouille makes a wonderful side dish for anything grilled. You can also serve it up with brown rice or whole grain bread, and you have a great meal. Try leftovers cold as a salad side, or warm them up to top an omelet.  Freshly grated parmesan on top finishes the dish.

Garden Fresh Ratatouille
In a large pot, saute until transparent:
     1 large onion, diced
     3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
     2 Tbsp olive oil
Add and cook for 10 minutes:
     1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced into 1" cubes
     2 medium green peppers, roughly diced
Stir in and cook for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are just tender.
     3 small zucchini, diced into 1" cubes
     4 whole tomatoes, diced (or 2 cans petite diced tomatoes)
     3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
     2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
     2 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
     1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
     1/2 tsp salt (optional)
     1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Makes 8 servings (about 1 1/4 cup each)
Nutritional data:  79 calories, 4 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 157 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 2g protein.  Counts a 1 Unit and 2 non-starchy vegetables.
Our ratatouille tonight tasted great along side grilled New York strip steak.