I’ve been keeping something from you. It’s something I love very much – so much that my first instinct isn’t to shout its praises from the hilltops, but, instead, keep it close and share it only with a select few. But the time has come, and I’ve realized that it’s not fair to keep this something all to myself – that you, too, should have it in your life. This something is ratatouille.
Ratatouille is all at once refreshing and soul warming, light and hearty, healthy and indulgent. It’s a recipe that changes with the seasons and with your vegetable inventory. I’ve tinkered with oils, ovens, produce, and pans. Every batch comes out different, but it’s always got that somethin’ somethin’ that makes it ratatouille.
You can eat it out of a bowl, pour it over cheesy polenta, mix it up with some quinoa, or top it off with a fried egg. You can spice it up, keep it mellow, or settle somewhere in between. What I’m getting at here is that there are very few rules with ratatouille. If you’ve never made it before, then, perhaps follow this recipe. But next time, I dare you to tinker with it, adding and subtracting based on whatever catches your eye at the farmers’ market, whatever vegetable is your current obsession, or really, whatever you want.
Ratatouille is my favorite way to eat seasonally. I’ve made it with fresh heirloom tomatoes in the summer, skin-on Delicata squash to bring in the New Year, and now with spring peas and stalks of asparagus like you wouldn't believe. Here is that last iteration, which is hearty and sweet, just like springtime. The ingredients in bold are must keeps…everything else is up for discussion.
Ingredients (serves 6)
½ head cauliflower
3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
1 yellow onion
1 bell pepper, any color
9-ish stalks asparagus
2 medium-sized zucchini
3 cloves garlic
4 sprigs thyme, stems on or off
1 bay leaf
1 24 oz. jar basil tomato sauce – I like Rao’s (or make your own!)
Small handful curly leaf parsley, stems removed
½ cup English peas
Preheat the oven to 375º.
Chop the eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Chop the cauliflower into small florets. Combine with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large baking dish. Bake until tender, 15-20 minutes.
While the eggplant and cauliflower are cooking, dice the onion and slice the pepper into 1-inch pieces.
Heat the coconut oil in a large wok or pot until melted and hot. Add the onion and pepper and cook over medium heat until onion is translucent.
Meanwhile, cut or break off the purple ends of the asparagus stalks. Cut the stalks into 1-inch pieces. Slice the carrots into small pieces. Add to the pot and stir to combine.
Slice the zucchini in half, then chop into small pieces. Mince the garlic. Add the zucchini, garlic, eggplant, cauliflower, thyme, and bay leaf to the pot, seasoning with salt, pepper, and garlic powder as you see fit.
Once zucchini begins to soften, add the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Add the peas and parsley. Let the ratatouille simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Serve immediately!
Other great ratatouille vegetables to consider:
Winter squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, summer squash, mushrooms, fennel, leeks, Lacinato kale