Monday, August 29, 2011

Ratatouille or Vegetable Stew

Wow its summer and all of the veggies look and taste amazing. Those of you with GREEN thumbs instead of BLACK thumbs like mine probably have an abundance of veggies in your gardens...or like me you have small happy seizures every time you see the farm stands and produce sections busting with local goodies!! the zucchini alone could make me faint dead away from pleasure.   This is a basic French dish...with lots of leeway to add things you like or have on hand to make it new and exciting each time.  (See the end of the recipe for ideas)
Healthy and low cal...but so rich and hearty you won't believe it.   


1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, sliced thin
3 bell peppers, cut into one inch squares(try different colors I like red and yellow)
2 eggplants, peeled lightly salted and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds tomatoes, chopped (or use fire roasted petite cut canned tomatoes)
2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Heat olive oil in a heavy soup pot on medium heat.Add onions to oil. Carmelize the onions until they are soft and golden in  color.

While the onions cook, chop the bell peppers and add them to the pot, stirring well.

Chop the eggplants and add to the pot, stirring well to coat the eggplant with oil. At this point all the olive oil will have soaked into the eggplant, so you need to stir often to keep things from burning.

Chop the zucchini and stir it in once the eggplant has softened a bit.
Chop the garlic and add to the vegetables, stirring well.
Chop the tomatoes and add them.

Mince the thyme leaves and add it along with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and cook two minutes.
Turn down heat and cover the pot. Simmer until everything is soft and well blended - about 40 minutes.
Stir in basil and remove from heat.

Serve as a stew with a hunkof crusty bread, or over rice, or on a crostini, or over pasta, or in an omelet, or however the mood strikes you. Also feel free to add other veggies(yellow squash, pumpkin, turnip,various peppers ect) to mix it up a bit ... or add a bit of white wine or the rind from some parmesan cheese to add a new spin on this classic French dish.  

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