Laura and I have recently started utilizing the service called, Boston Organics. They send you a box of fruit and/or vegetables each week, based on a list of things that you say you will eat or not eat. Everything comes from local farms and is organic. We currently get a box that is 1/3 fruit and 2/3 vegetables. Last year we had to cancel our service because we were throwing away so much food that we just couldn't eat (or, to be honest, we were eating out a lot last year), so it was important for us to make the pledge that whatever they delivered, we would make sure we ate it somehow.
Today I was looking at the white eggplant, bell peppers, and broccoli that came in the box that we still hadn't used, and while I swore I was going to fry the eggplant, I am on a diet these days (Weight Watchers) so finding something that wasn't too fattening became my new priority. It was then, today, while taking a long walk, I thought of Ratatouille. I only had to add a few more ingredients from the store to have everything I needed, and once those things were bought, this came together really quickly alongside stuff I already had floating around the kitchen.
Here is what you will need:
1 large White Eggplant (peeled, cut into 5 one-inch circles, then cut in half, then cut into thin ribbons)
(Note: after doing this, it is best to lightly salt the eggplant, let it sit out for 20 minutes so that it sweats, and lightly pat it down with a paper towel)
1 large Vidalia Onion (peeled and cut and into long thin slices)
2 cups of Baby Bella Mushrooms (washed and cut in half)
3 cups of Broccoli (washed and cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 large Green Bell Pepper (washed, cored, cut into thin ribbons)
6 cloves of garlic (crushed)
56 ounce can of Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup fresh Basil (wash and tear it into medium-sized pieces)
1/2 tsp Italian Oregano (fresh is best but dried works as well)
1/2 tsp French Thyme (fresh is best but dried works as well)
1 TBSP Olive Oil
Olive Oil spray to coat the pan
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Spray the pan with the Olive Oil and put on medium heat.
2. Add the Onion and Eggplant and stir them until the eggplant blackens and breaks down. If you need another spray or two of the oil, give it a shot!
3. Add the Mushrooms, Garlic, and Bell Pepper. Cook for five minutes. If things are sticking too much, add 1/8 cup of water.
4. Add the Broccoli. Cook for 5 minutes.
5. Add the Tomato Sauce, Basil, Oregano, and Thyme. Lower down to simmer, stir, cook for 15 minutes. I like to let it cook at simmer for as much as 45 minutes, or turn it off after 15 minutes, let it sit for an hour, then warm it back up. The longer this thing sits, the better it gets.
6. Add your pinch of salt and pepper, the TBSP of Olive Oil, right before serving.
This should make FOUR really nice servings.
Additionally, you could throw in a large Zucchini (chopped into half-moon pieces, add it in after the Broccoli), shred a small Carrot into the sauce (add right before the mushrooms), add a large Red Potato --this is how my grandmother used to make this--(scrub the potato, cut into tiny cubes, add in at the mushroom stage, but add in an additional 1 TBSP of Olive Oil at this moment), or a 1/2 cup of chopped green Olives (Provence-style).
What to serve it with? Great question!
I made it with Polenta today, but you can serve it with Pasta, Whole Wheat Pasta, Spinach Pasta, or Long Grain Rice.
For my Polenta I brought 2 cups of water to a boil, removed the pan from the heat, added 1 Cup of dry Polenta, 1/8 Cup of Vegan Parmesan Cheese, 1/4 TSP Salt. I then scooped it into 1/2 cup measures (it made 4 balls), and baked then at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.