For those of you, not in the know, ratatouille is actually the name of a French Provencal stew. It's what you do when the zucchini, tomato and eggplants in your garden have decided it's time for a coup. A take over! Several years ago I had a VERY prolific tomato plant about the size of one of those "smart cars" you see around. It virtually attacked and claimed a corner of my yard and even though it was attacked by the dreaded spiny looking tomato worm, the plant still provided pound after pound of huge juicy tomatoes.
Enter the heirloom black zucchini plant! In my neck of the woods, high desert and usually dry, we don't plant most veggies in the ground until late May or early June. Even then, weather can be fickle with bouts of dry, alternating with snow and quick freezes. My zucchini plant struggled at first and while I went on a short vacation my dad watered and watched over my garden. Now, I don't know what he said to these plants, but upon my return, Magic! He's always had a green thumb. I began to grow zucchini in a big way, picking consistently two or 3 a day. I also planted one Japanese eggplant which was almost nibbled to the ground by a resident rabbit. Thanks for the trim! Now, it thrives, too.
This ratatouille recipe is great when your garden is going gangbusters! While I had measurements, you don't have to be so exact. You're not baking a cake, it's a stew! Ratatouille is even better the next day as the flavors blend.
2 cups, chopped peppers (I used an assortment of colors)
1 cup chopped yellow onion
3-4 small Japanese eggplant. (no need to peel, chop into 1/2 inch pieces)
2 cups zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch or bite size pieces
1 1/2 -2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 c of diced canned organic tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tsp herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp thyme
a handful of chopped parsley (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Once everything is chopped up this dish is easy. I started with 2 Tbsp of olive oil to get the veggies cooking. Add the peppers, onions, eggplant and zucchini, stirring until the onions begin to soften. Add the tomatoes, garlic, canned tomatoes, bay leaf, herbs and thyme. Cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat.
Cover and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for another 30 minutes or longer, checking to see if the liquid has evaporated. You can add a bit (1/4 cup) of water or broth to keep them moist. Salt and pepper to taste. Make sure you let a spoonful cool,; the veggies are very hot at this point!
You can serve after letting it cool a bit or refrigerate for the next day. I like to put a dollop of goat cheese on top...delicious!