Ratatouille: With Fresh from the Garden Tomatoes, Zucchini and Eggplant

basket of fresh vegetables used to make ratatouille

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UPDATE 7/24/23 – With the husband’s small garden now in Vermont we don’t have a zucchini overload as we did when we lived in Montana but we are getting a few squash. Enough to enjoy for dinner and hopefully I will have some so that I can make some zucchini bread. I do love it – so moist and flavorful. Plus it freezes well.

He did bring me in zucchinis and tomatoes so I sent him to the store for an eggplant – he isn’t growing them here – so I could make some ratatouille. It is a favorite of ours. This vegetable stew is a wonderful way to use up those zucchini from the garden plus any surfeit of tomatoes.

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Have you ever experienced the zucchini overload?. Anyone who gardens or who has a friend with a garden knows all about this time of year. It’s when you start to learn all of the recipes that contain this prolific squash. One of my favorites is ratatouille  –  it does contain zucchini but it also has eggplant and tomato. In fact I have to wait for the tomatoes to ripen before I can make it and my patience often runs out because I enjoy this vegetable stew so much.

basket of fresh vegetables

Living on a small farm where we grow most of what we eat there are certain meals I look forward to each year. Ratatouille is one of those meals for me. As soon as I can collect my basket of tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant I am ready to make this delicious favorite. It’s a joy to eat for dinner and then I also can jars of it so it is available in the pantry all winter long.  You can see my post on canning ratatouille if you are so inclined.

Ratatouille

3 TBS Olive Oil
1 large onion, diced
1 head garlic, all cloves minced or pressed
4 cups chopped eggplant
4 cups chopped zucchini
6 cups chopped tomatoes
2 TBS Herbes de Provence
1 TBS salt
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Optional – fresh herbs:  I used parsley, basil, thyme and oregano

Israeli Couscous or rice, barley or some kind of pasta
Additional Olive Oil

Place a heavy bottomed 8 quart stock pot over med-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the onions and garlic. Lower the heat to medium.

Let the onions cook until they just start to get a bit of color on them.

Add the eggplant and stir. Make sure you get it coated with the onions and oil.

Add the zucchini.

Then the tomatoes. Mixing well after each addition.

Let this cook until the tomatoes release their juices, about half an hour. Add in the white wine, the balsamic vinegar the salt, and the Herbes de Provence. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer. Check it periodically to make sure it is not getting dry. It should maintain a soupy consistency, but it should also thicken up a bit. Let it cook for at least 3 hours. You don’t want undercooked eggplant.

When you are ready to serve taste the broth and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Prepare your base starch; I made Israeli couscous for this meal. After I had drained the pasta I mixed it with a tablespoon of the olive oil and some salt to add flavor.

I then went out to the herb garden to see what was available, where there were some lovely parsley, basil, oregano and thyme growing. After a quick wash, I gave them a rough chop. A couple of tablespoons were set aside for garnish.

The rest I tossed into the pot of ratatouille for a nice, fresh finish.

To serve I put 3/4 of a cup of couscous in the bottom of the bowl and then spooned the ratatouille around it. I sprinkled a few fresh herbs on top and dinner was served.

How Was the Ratatouille?

Add some garlic knots and you have a perfect dinner if you ask me. It’s one of those meals that gets better as it sits. As the flavors have time to develop over a couple of days the ratatouille tastes even more delicious.

It’s an incredibly versatile recipe; I’ve served it over barley, rice and fettuccine. I have also put it into risotto.  Thin it out with some tomato broth and it makes a delicious soup. You can add meat to it if you want and you can cook it down further and use it as a filler for lasagna. For a slightly different take on this classic recipe you can also make Roasted Ratatouille.

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