An overflowing garden and a frig packed with produce is an opportunity to make the classic vegetarian French stew Ratatouille, using up everything in one fell swoop. Chock full of eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and ripe summer tomatoes, this summer stew will produce a dish to feed a crowd, pack for lunch, and freeze for later.
Starting with basics from the garden- chunks of squash, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes- I add anything else that is hanging around my fridge that needs a home. Extra pesto from my garden was a welcome addition, as well as some fresh Okra pods that I picked and added ten minutes later for a flavor boost. Some leftover grilled squash and eggplant made it to the mix also. Fresh herbs such as thyme, basil, and oregano were added along with garlic cloves that were sitting in my garlic-infused olive oil. Okra has started to produce and this was a tasty addition to the stew, adding a welcome thickening agent to the final product.
One of the easiest, most prolific vegetable that you can grow in most any garden is Okra. A super food full of nutrients, and tasty as well, I tried a new All America Selection called Candle Fire, a unique red okra with round pods. An ornamental plant in the garden, the only chore for this plant is picking the pods every few days to use in cooking. That is absolutely it! No pests bother it and I love the beautiful blooms.
For more information on growing Okra, go to my post, Okra SuperFood Superstar.
The recipe is very loose – it is just the starting point for many flavor additions that you might have on hand. You could add some red wine, a splash of vinegar or lemon juice, or smoked paprika to make it your own. Cooking a large batch at the beginning of the week allows you to use it throughout the next week as a tasty and colorful base for chicken, fish, grilled meats, or pasta. The possibilities are endless. How about folding some into a omelette or over crostini?
Delicious cold. if possible make it a day ahead of time-ratatouille improves significantly after the flavors have a chance to mingle in the refrigerator.
Making this in a large 10 inch cast iron skillet is the easiest and most flavorful method; the clean up is a breeze
- 1 Onion Sliced thin
- 2-3 Garlic Clove Minced
- 5-6 T Olive Oil
- 1 Small Eggplant 1/2" Dice
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, or any other peppers 1/2" Dice
- 1/2 to 1 LB Tomatoes Chopped Coarse
- Small tender okra pods 4" or less, Chopped
- 1/4 C Basil Pesto
- Dried or Fresh Oregano Chopped
- Dried or Fresh Thyme Chopped
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Fresh Basil Leaves Shredded
In large cast iron skillet, cook the garlic and onion in olive oil until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the vegetables, sauteing until tender. Stir in the herbs, except for the fresh basil. Stir occasionally to blend the flavors about 30 minutes, adding the fresh basil right before serving.