Comfort Food: Ratatouille

To me, comfort food is something that can be eaten at any time during the year. Regardless of when you eat it, you’re transported, temporarily, to a place or time that brings back good memories and, for a few moments, makes the stresses of everyday life disappear. Comfort food is something I tend to cook slowly to allow all the flavors I love to blend together perfectly. While not typical, I think ratatouille can be comfort food because of the intense flavors and fragrances that come from this dish.

Why You Should Eat Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a French stew from the Provencal region. It uses vegetables that are slowly cooked and blended together to create an incredible, hearty stew. The vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and essential amino acids. The olive oil they’re cooked in is a healthy fat.

6 Dishes in 1!

jaroslaw-ceborski-235626-unsplash
Photo by Jarosław Ceborski 

Once prepared, ratatouille can be used in many ways. The longer it sits in the refrigerator, the more intense the flavors become. I love this dish for its possibilities alone!

  1. Eat it as a wonderful stew that goes incredibly well with toasted bread.
  2. Serve it as a sauce over whole wheat pasta or creamy polenta.
  3. Add it as a side dish for grilled chicken or pork.
  4. Place it in a shallow dish and add poached eggs to make a tasty version of “Eggs in Purgatory” or a shakshuka.
  5. Use it as a great filling for omelets.
  6. Eat it cold with crackers for an easy mid-afternoon snack.

This dish does take time to prep all the ingredients and cook, but the results are worth the effort.This dish is perfect to make on a weekend and will provide several servings throughout the work week. And hint: friends and family, ratatouille makes a great dish to bring to a pregnant woman! 

Ratatouille

  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 large tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch cubes, with their juices (or use 1 large [28 ounce] can peeled tomatoes with its juice or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme, plus more for serving
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the eggplant and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and starting to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.
  3. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with some salt and transfer to a 2nd plate lined with paper towels (not the one with the eggplant- both get added separately). Keep it set aside.
  4. Add two more tablespoons of oil to the pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for about 3 minutes more.
  5. Add the tomatoes (and their juices), tomato paste, thyme, sugar, and another sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down into a sauce, 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked eggplant to the pan; bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is soft.
  7. Add the zucchini and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, or until just warmed through.
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  9. Sprinkle with fresh basil and thyme, drizzle with a little olive oil if desired
  10. Serve warm or chilled. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5-7 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

 

Feature photo (top of page) is by Brooke Lark.

 

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