Isn't this season just fantastic? We are so loving the cooler temps here. Renewal seems to be the word of the day for me, so with that in mind I have been vigorously and furiously cleaning and scrubbing and reorganizing my kitchen. Not wanting to have to stop this frenzy early for meal preparation, I decided this week to make all of the meals in the crockpot. One, it is just so simple and convenient, and two, it permeates the house with the most mouth-watering and delicious smells! My first recipe for the week is ratatouille.
•1 eggplant, peeled and 1 inch dice
•2 medium onion, chopped
•1 green bell pepper, 1/2 inch dice
•1 red bell pepper, 1/2 inch dice
•1 yellow bell pepper, 1/2 inch dice
•3 zucchini squash, sliced
•3 tbsp olive oil
•3 tbsp dried basil
•4 cloves garlic, minced
•1/2 tsp ground black pepper
•6 oz tomato paste
•1/2 tsp salt
•2 cups fresh tomatoes
Sprinkle eggplant with salt and let it drain in a colander about 1 hour. Press out excess moisture. Rinse with water and pat dry using paper towels. Place in crockpot then add onion, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, olive oil, basil, garlic, and salt then mix well. Cover and cook on low 7 hours, or on high for 3 hours. Serve over hot cooked rice.
The sprinkling with salt and draining was probably unnecessary, but I did it anyway. I substituted the green bell pepper with an orange one, just for fun and additional color. It went very well with bread buttered with Earth Balance and iced green tea. This one is definitely a keeper!
A little bit of fascinating history about ratatouille:
The word Ratatouille actually comes from the french term "touiller," which means to toss food or to stir up.
Ratatouille originated in the area around present day Nice and is now eaten throughout Languedoc and Provence. It was originally a meal made by poor farmer's (in essence it started out life as a peasant dish), and was prepared in the summer with fresh summer vegetables. The first appearance of the word in English was found in Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery, 1877.
The original and simplest form of Ratatouille used only zucchini, tomatoes, green and red peppers (bell peppers), onions, and garlic.
Today eggplant is usually added to the list of ingredients.
It can be served warm or cold. My son actually ate some at room temperature and still thought it was delicious.