Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ratatouille, eat it up yum. . .

Last year I fell in love with ratatouille when I had an abundance of zucchini and basil. I wound up purchasing eggplant at the grocery store and using canned tomatoes to round out this rustic dish that originated in France.

This year I got the zucchini started late and feared I'd need to supplement my recipe with store bought ingredients again seeing that the eggplant had rapidly produced a bumper crop.

I was thrilled then when a friend, who I offered extra eggplant to, swapped me for two huge zucchini she'd grown in her backyard.

This year the tomatoes are doing so great I was able to skip the canned but sadly had to purchase the fresh basil as the only variety I am currently growing is a lemon flavored that didn't seem appropriate for the dish.

Ratatouille was originally a common dish, prepared in the summer with fresh summer vegetables. I consulted my faithful red plaid Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book for some guidelines and a jumping-off point then got to work. First, I got some onion and garlic going in some olive oil while I pulsed the tomatoes in the food processor to get them a little saucy yet still chunky. Next I added the tomatoes and peeled and cubed eggplant and zucchini that I had briefly steamed in the microwave to the pan. While it simmered I added some roughly chopped basil, salt and pepper, a little Italian seasoning and a splash of red wine. After the flavors melded awhile I poured it over a pot of steaming fusilli and finished it off by stirring in a large portion of Trader Joe's four cheese blend which includes shredded Parmesan, Asiago, Fontina and Provolone.

Served over pasta this is a hearty and delicious meatless meal.

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