Ratatouille With Ratatouille
I have a habit of stacking cookbooks before going to bed and flipping through them like juicy fiction novels. Years ago when my dear grandmother passed away, I was given some of her cookbooks. She had a whole section of cabinets in her kitchen devoted to her BIG collection. It must run in the family since she used to have them on her nightstand and read them at night too. One of my favorite cookbooks of grandma’s is the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. The book is a compilation of recipes served at the Moosewood Restaurant inIthaca, New York. The Moosewood Restaurant has quite an eclectic selection of international and mainly vegetarian cuisine. They use fresh local ingredients and started this long ago (70’s) before it was the IN thing. In fact, their menu changes everyday based on what ingredients are available. One day I hope to visit the restaurant and enjoy a meal or two. Until then, I dream and try the recipes in the book. Reasons why this book is a favorite of mine:
- A-MAZ-ING recipes like:
Eggplant Almond Enchiladas
Zucchini- Crusted Pizza
- Unique design and artwork
Each page looks as if a friend wrote the recipe down and sketched something on the page. It gives it a personal touch.
- Background information of ingredients and different ways you can serve it. For an example, “The Greek Pilaf is a basic way of preparing rice as a filling for grape leaves, artichokes, or Greek – style eggplant. It is delicious enough to serve by itself also, or as an accompaniment to sautéed vegetables or baked fish”. I like when cookbooks give suggestions of ways to prepare! At 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. my brain isn’t as creative as I would like it to be.
Speaking of 4:30 or 5:00, the other day I was flipping through cookbooks trying to come up with an idea for dinner. I kept walking from the pantry to the refrigerator looking at what I had to work with. My brain was fried and the kiddos were going crazy. I had told my son we could watch a movie that night and as I flipped through the Moosewood Cookbook, I found a recipe for Ratatouille. A spark of creativity came to me. We could eat Ratatouille while watching, “Ratatouille.” I just so happened to have eggplant, peppers, onions, AND tomatoes!!! It was meant to be. The only thing we were missing was a big loaf of crunchy and chewy French bread. I was a bit skeptical that my son would eat it but he surprised me BIG time when he munched it down while sitting on a towel in front of the television. Maybe that was the reason :). I served it on a bed of quinoa instead of rice and topped it with goat cheese. There were a couple of key ingredients I didn’t have like red wine (used a little red wine vinegar) and parsley. It was still amazing. If you ask me, it is a great fall meal!
Ratatouille from the Moosewood Cookbook
1 medium onion (fist size), chopped.
2 medium bell peppers, in strips or cubes
2 small or 1 medium , zucchini, cubed (or summer squash or a combination)
1 small eggplant, cubed
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 medium tomatoes, in chunks
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. each: basil, marjoram
½ tsp. oregano
Dash of ground rosemary
3 TB. burgundy (or dry, red wine of your choice)
½ C. tomato juice
2 TB. tomato paste
2 tsp. salt (approx)
Black pepper to taste
¼ C. olive oil
Fresh- chopped parsely
1. Heat olive oil in large, heavy cooking pot. Crush the garlic into the oil.
2. Add bay leaf and onion; salt lightly. Sauté over medium heat until onions begins to turn transparent.
3. Add eggplant, wine, and tomato juice. Add herbs.
4. Stir to mix well, then cover and simmer 10-15 minutes over low heat. When eggplant is tender enough to be easily pricked by a fork, add zucchini and peppers. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
5. Add salt and pepper, tomatoes and tomato paste. Mix well. Continue to stew until all vegetables are tender. (How tender is tender? Do a taste test and decide what seems right to you.)
Just before serving, mix in fresh parsley. Serve on a bed of rice, or in bowl, accompanies by some good French bread. Top with grated cheese and chopped black olives.