Ratatouille

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The standstill in our bathroom renovation continues, but there is a fast approaching light at the end of this very long tunnel. I had a nightmare the other night that we moved into another house that was bigger but needed renovation. I am very much looking forward to having a bedroom and staying home with Dominik.

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For the first weekend in months, we had our little family together for the entire weekend. My husband has been helping with the bathroom work on the weekends, usually all day, so we have been spending weekends with Grandma. We went to the park and took a little family trip to the library and it was the happiest we have all felt after so many weekends spent apart. My husband and I have always really enjoyed each others company and have rarely made separate weekend plans.

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During one particularly relaxed weekend, we went to the mall and spent a good hour in the Le Creuset outlet store. We both love to eat, so it was fun to see all the beautiful cookware. My husband gifted me a beautiful Le Creuset casserole dish on that outing. I use it all the time because it is just so versatile. I use it to make soups, stews, casseroles, and even just sauces. It would have been just perfect for this next dish, but we weren’t home when I made it. If you have a cast iron casserole, this is the dish for it.

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Ratatouille is the quintessential summer dish, in my opinion. It has all the lovely flavors and textures of summer produce and is a wonderfully filling vegetarian dish. There are a million variations on ratatouille and even more “traditional” or “family” recipes. Some make it like stew, others layer the vegetables like a casserole. Most contain some sort of combination of zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, tomato, bell pepper, and herbs. Nearly all ratatouille recipes agree that all vegetables need to be cooked separately in a pan first to bring out their potential flavors.

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After trying out a few of these variations, my favorite continues to be the layered casserole. I find that in a stew, the vegetables tend to get a bit muddled and mushy. In a summer dish especially, I love to focus on the fresh flavors of the vegetables. The breadcrumbs on top are not typical of ratatouille recipes and completely optional, but I enjoy the crunch on top that adds a pleasurable texture to the dish. Serve this delicious summer plate with a grain like pasta, rice, or just a fresh bread.

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Ratatouille

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-large eggplant, peeled
  • 2 medium zucchinis
  • 2 medium yellow squash
  • 4-5 large ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: about 1/4 cup bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Slice the eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash into 1/4 inch medallions. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large pan, saute the garlic in a few tablespoons olive oil until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and bell pepper and cook until the tomatoes have broken down and created a sauce.
  3. Stir in the herbs and some salt and pepper. Pour the tomato sauce into an oven safe casserole and set aside.
  4. Using the rest of the olive oil, cook each vegetable medallion in the pan for a few minutes on each side. Be sure to add a little salt to the vegetables.
  5. When all the vegetables are cooked, arrange the eggplant and squash on top of the tomato sauce. Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes. If using bread crumbs, add them about 5 minutes before baking is complete. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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