Thursday, August 12, 2010


Summer produce from my friend Fran's garden is what healthy cooking is all about. Last weekend she presented me with baby eggplants, summer squash, green peppers and tomatoes and the next thing I knew I was in my kitchen making a ratatouille that's fast, easy and delicious. I didn't follow a recipe and just did what seemed to feel right. I also used a few items from my fridge. With a dish like this- any, and (almost) every combination seems to work. So have fun- and change, omit and add ingredients any way you like.

Garden Ratatouille

2 T canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
3 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 baby eggplants peeled and cut into 1" dice
1 8 oz package sliced mushrooms
1 summer squash cut into 1" dice
1 zucchini cut into 1" dice
2 plum tomatoes chopped
1 jar 14 oz Classico tomatoe sauce
1 jar 14 oz of water
2 small bay leaves
additional salt and pepper if necessary

Heat oil in large saucepan on medium/medium low. Add onions and green pepper and sweat them for about 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and cook for a minute. Add eggplant, mushrooms, summer squash, zucchini and plum tomatoes. When mushrooms and eggplant begin to soften add tomato sauce, water and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook 25 minutes uncovered. This will allow some of the water to evaporate and the flavors to concentrate. And that's it. You've got ratatouille!

I didn't measure the quantity this recipe makes, but it is substantial. So I decided to make a pasta cheese bake with some of it.

Baked Ratatouille, Penne and Cheese

1-1/2 cups penne pasta uncooked (I use low carb Dreamfields)
3 cups of ratatouille mixture
1 cup reduced fat shredded Italian 4 cheese blend (I used Sargento- I love all their cheeses)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook penne according to package directions. Coat an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with cooking spray. In large bowl combine penne, ratatouille and 4 cheese blend. Pour penne mixture into baking dish, top with parmesan cheese and bake 30 to 35 minutes. I had this for dinner with a crisp green salad and lunch the next day with a few slices of Italian bread.

And what happened to the remaining ratatouille? It's in the freezer for round two next week...

...which will be ratatouille served on crusty bruschetta. It makes a great appetizer or light lunch and can be served warm or at room temperature. One little tip here- before I top the bruschettas, I go back into the dish and chop the veggies a little smaller so nothing rolls off the small rounds of bread. Enjoy!

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