Late summer harvest brings some of my favorite foods; dark, flavorful eggplant, ripe, juicy tomatoes, crisp bell peppers, and an abundance of zucchini. It’s the best time of year to make ratatouille! Sometimes, when I am yearning for summer days deep in the dark of winter, I purchase all these ingredients at the grocery store and make a big pot of ratatouille. But it never compares to the September version, when everything is fresh off the vine.
There are many different recipes for ratatouille. Some are baked, some cooked on the stove top. Some are layered, some more a mixed-up melange. Some include potatoes, some include wine. But all include the four main vegetables plus lots of herbs. Ratatouille can be served as a sauce, a stew, or drained and served as a side dish. It is equally delicious over pasta or polenta or tucked into crepes or an omelet. It tastes even better the day after it is first prepared, and better again on the third day – if it lasts that long. And best of all, it’s very easy to make at home.
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large leek, cut in half lengthwise and sliced*
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into ½ inch cubes**
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- ½ tsp thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 medium zucchini, chopped
- 1 large bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup red wine
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and leek and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant, dried basil, dried marjoram, thyme and bay leaf. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 15 -20 minutes or until eggplant is soft. Occasionally stir so that the herbs don’t burn.
Ads zucchini and chopped bell pepper to the pot along with crushed tomatoes and red wine. Simmer for 10 – 20 more minutes or until the vegetables are all tender.
*Use the white and light green parts of the leek. Discard the tough, green tops.
** Don’t worry about peeling and salting the eggplant. Trim the top and bottom, cut half lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
Note: When completely cooked, ratatouille is not one of the most attractive dishes you have ever made as its colors fade, but it will be one of the tastiest!