So many times we get tired of the same old vegetable dishes. Have you been looking for a different variation that can be used as a side dish with various cuts of meat as well as over pasta and become a complete meal in itself? You need to look no further, for the answer is ratatouille. Now a days we can find many recipes available on the Internet as well in a host of cook books. However; I find that this is a wonderful recipe that I have mastered throughout the years. I always like to make some extra to just keep in the refrigerator.
2 large eggplants
3-4 green zucchini squash
1 -2 large onions
4 tablespoons of minced garlic
1 large green or red pepper
2 cans of sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cans of tomato sauce at least 16 ounces each
3-4 cups of red wine
3 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons garlic powder
I do not add salt to the recipe for I feel that with all the spices and herbs it is not necessary and the canned tomato sauce generally is already salted.
It is very important that you start with fresh ingredients, for that always brings about the best taste in any recipe.
Dice the onions as well as the eggplant, green or red pepper and also the zucchini. Set all of these ingredients once diced aside. I always keep each of my vegetables in a separate bowl prior to cooking since each one takes a different amount of time to cook.
Coat the bottom of a good size Dutch oven with the canola oil. Now heat the canola oil and than add the minced fresh garlic as well as the diced onions. I find that the minced garlic that comes in large containers from Sam’s Club or Costco is wonderful for cooking with. Of course the minced garlic can be found at other stores, I just use so much of it to cook with that I purchase the larger size, which is also more economical as well. Make sure that you refrigerate the container of minced garlic once you open it. You can find the minced garlic in the spice aisle at various stores. By using this product, you do not have to peel fresh cloves of garlic and mince them and than have your hands smelling like garlic for the rest of the day. Cook the onions and garlic until they are soft and palatable and golden brown in color. Make sure that you still have oil coating the bottom of the pan, now add the diced green or red pepper and cook them until they are soft. Add the zucchini and also cook this until it becomes some what soft and now add the eggplant and cook that until it begins to soften, mixing all of the vegetables together over a medium temperature on your stove top.
Important do not over cook the vegetables for you do not want them to become too soft. Also keep in mind that when you add the rest of the other ingredients you will be cooking the entire dish for a longer time frame as well which will also make the vegetables softer.
Drain the liquid from the 2 cans of sliced mushrooms and add them to the mixture, continuing to cook all the ingredients. Now add the red wine, the 2 cans of tomato sauce as well as all of the spices. Stir all of the ingredients thoroughly until they are well coated over all of the vegetables. Let all of this cook now on a lower temperature until all of the vegetables are soft and the flavors of the spices, herbs, tomato sauce and wine have marinated together. I generally cook this for about an hour at a low temperature.
This recipe is great as a side dish with beef, lamb, pork or chicken. You can also cook some whole wheat pasta and add the ratatouille on top and than top with grated fresh Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese and serve as a main dish. Add a nice glass of red wine with your meal and voila, another fine vegetable used as a side dish or main dish. The most important thing is to enjoy not only the cooking experience but also the end result as well, a healthy vegetable dish.