National Soup Month – Ratatouille

Proving once again that the best food is also the simplest food, today’s celebration “soup” is that peasant food favorite; Ratatouille.

Ratatouille is a rich, herb flavored vegetable stew. I usually make ratatouille in the the summer when its main ingredients; eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes are all fresh.  But the other day the eggplant in the crisper was calling to me, and I was feeling a little too lazy to make Eggplant Parmesan, so Ratatouille it was! My recipe is based on one by Mollie Katzen  found in the Moosewood Cookbook. I own over 200 cookbooks, but this is one that I use on a regular basis. There isn’t a bad recipe in the book.

Eggplant and herbs

Start by chopping 1 medium eggplant  into small cubes. Don’t worry about peeling it, salting it, and all the other advice that sends people running from eggplant. Just cut it half lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

Heat about 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot, add 3 cloves of garlic, minced, and 1 large leek, chopped and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant plus 2 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp marjoram, 1/2 tsp thyme and a 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.

Ratatouille fixings

Add 2 medium zucchini (chopped or sliced and quartered), and 1 chopped bell pepper to the pot along with 2 cups of crushed tomatoes and 1/4  cup red wine. Since this was going to be our main meal, I “beefed” up the protein level by adding 3 Tbsp of bean granules. The bean granules don’t affect the flavor of the stew but are an inexpensive way to add protein and fiber. (You can purchase them here). Simmer for 10 – 20 more minutes or until the vegetables are all tender.

Red Wine Ratatouille served over pasta.

This time I served the ratatouille over pasta. Leftovers will be served over polenta. When I make ratatouille from garden fresh vegetables, I usually serve it at room temperature along with a summer salad or two. But that’s the great thing about ratatouille – it can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature; thick like a stew or thinner (add more tomato); topped with olives or sour cream or shredded cheese. Like most herb-rich meals, this one is even better the next day.

If Ratatouille still seems like too much work, I developed a red wine sauce mix to use. This is the recipe that comes with our Mama’s Mediterranean Sauce mix:

Cut vegetables into 1 inch pieces. In Dutch oven, cook eggplant in oil over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until soft. Add remaining ingredients. Cover, simmer and additional 15 minutes or until cooked through. Reviews have been great so far! What about you? Do you have a favorite Ratatouille “encounter”?

Mama's Mediterranean Red Wine Sauce

Red Bean Granules

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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at SeedToPantry.com and HestiasKitchen.com.

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