Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Farmers Market Ratatouille

Nope, it's not just a movie! But I do have to say, thanks to the movie, my kids were much more excited to try my ratatouille than I know they would have been otherwise. Ratatouille makes a great main dish, served with quinoa, couscous or brown rice, and it makes a great side dish served with grilled chicken or fish. The recipe can very easily be adjusted to fit your needs as far as number of servings.

Continuing with the theme of late, there are many, many different recipes for ratatouille. You will find varied ingredients and varied preparations. I adjusted this one to the vegetables I found at the farmers market this morning (pretty much the usual at my market) and the herbs growing in my backyard. Use what's in season and at a good price. As for preparation, I skip the the strictly stove-top preparation you will often see in recipes (makes it too mushy for my taste) and even the sauteing of the vegetables prior to baking, and I just layer everything right in a baking dish--keeps it a bit fresher tasting in my opinion. Using the slow cooker is also a great option when you need the convenience.

This is a fresh, healthful dish, and combined with some quinoa or brown rice and fresh fruit, we'll have another $5 supper tonight!

Farmers Market Ratatouille

1 small eggplant, peeled and sliced into rounds (roughly 2 cups)
1 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds (roughly 2 cups)
2 medium tomatoes, sliced into rounds (roughly 1 1/2 cups)
1 medium yellow squash, sliced into rounds (roughly 2 cups)
1 small onion, sliced into rings (roughly 1 cup)
1 medium bell pepper, sliced into rings (roughly 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Parmesan cheese

Step 1: Optional: After eggplant is peeled and sliced, place in a colander. Generously sprinkle with kosher salt and let sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour. This will draw out a brownish, sometimes bitter liquid. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. If your eggplant is small and does not have many seeds, or if it is fresh, you might be able to skip this step. If it's larger and has many seeds, you might want to let it sit longer. Some people don't notice a bitter taste in eggplant, others are very sensitive to it. Possible bitterness aside, it does draw out excess moisture and can help keep the eggplant from becoming super mushy. 

Step 2: Layer the vegetables in a 9" x 11" or similar-sized baking dish, dividing the olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs and sprinkling over two or three layers of vegetables.

Step 3: Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Top individual servings with Parmesan cheese if desired, or add to top of entire dish during last ten minutes of cooking. 

Alternate Preparation: Layer ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.


Eggplant: $.75
Zucchini: $.75, used 1/2 = $.38
Tomatoes: $2/6 Roma tomatoes, used 2 = $.67
Yellow squash: $.50
Onion: $.50, used 1/3 = $.17
Bell pepper: $.50

Total Cost: $2.97
Six Servings: $.50 per serving

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