My best ratatouille recipe and other thoughts

ratouilleI am so excited about this batch of ratatouille currently stewing in my kitchen. It’s my first go at using an Herbs de Provence mix, and it smells amazing. (Recipe at the end of the post)

Ratatouille is such a simple, delicious thing to throw together. You can get as intense with the traditional French cooking or American-style fusion as you want.

Or you can throw a bunch of vegetables in a dutch oven with some onions, garlic, butter, herbs, and a lot of chardonnay and call it good. Because that’s what I did and it is good (Although normally it’s advised that one use cooking sherry).

hith-prohibition-Mlle._Rhea_Flask_LC-USZ62-99952-VSI used chardonnay because a) I tend to do my grocery shopping on Sunday, and b) I live in the great Theocracy of Texas. In Texas, you cannot buy booze that is over 17% alcohol on Sunday. Cooking sherry is 18%. I always forget to make a run to pick up sherry on Saturdays.

This is only the second time I have really cooked a hearty meal since starting the new day job a few weeks ago. I’m finally feeling settled enough that I can think straight, although I do keep rabbit holing into an intense internal debate over which programming language I’m about to throw myself into. Expect posts soon on my trials and travails over learning either Javascript or Visual Basic!

Good food is so important to one’s sanity and quality of life. Last night Reed and I saw Michael Moore’s new film, Where to Invade Next, which is mostly a tour of the good life in Europe. A third to half of the film was about providing quality food, from long lunches for home cooked meals and family time, to French public schools with their own chefs and the teachers treating meal time as a daily class in essential life skills.

Even accounting for the imbalanced way that Moore was trying to make his point, it’s a bit mind blowing to see what happens when quality meals and meal time are treated with the respect due to essential human rights.

When I was younger I had budding ambitions to work for food activism. The one thing that Michael Moore is really good at is challenging us to make the world better.

My new job also has me going through dozens of blogs that regular posts on wild food, from foraging mushrooms to hunting for food. It’s interesting that I seem to slowly turning back to a fascination with the politics, economics, and ethics of food. I’m curious to see where it takes me.

<Edit later that night>

This is the best ratatouille I’ve ever made. Reed’s pretty in love with it. Here’s the recipe. Please enjoy.

Recipe:

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp Herbs de Provence spice mix (Penzey’s)
Sea salt and black pepper
1 yellow sweet onion (finely diced)
4 cloves garlic (diced)
1 zucchini (chopped)
1 red bell pepper (chopped)
1 eggplant (chopped)
1 bottle cooking sherry, decent chardonnay, or other sweet white wine

  1. Cut the eggplant up into half inch chunks. Put the eggplant pieces into a bowl with a half to full tablespoon of salt. Mix the eggplant and salt up until coated. Let the eggplant sit for 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. If cooking with chardonnay, pour yourself a glass and enjoy while cooking. To prep the palate, of course.
  3. Finely dice the onion and garlic. Allow to rest for ten minutes for full oxidation.
  4. Melt butter in a large pot (dutch oven recommended). Add the onion, and coat with the melted butter.  Cover and cook at medium heat until onions begin to turn translucent.
  5. Add a splash of wine to the onion sauté. Cover again, stirring occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes, until onions begin to brown.
  6. While the onions carmelize
  7. Add the garlic. Stir occasionally for 3 minutes.
  8. Add the zucchini and bell pepper to the pot. Mix up thoroughly and cover.
  9. Put the eggplant into a colander, and rinse thoroughly to rinse to remove the salt. Add the eggplant to the pot. Mix the vegetables thoroughly, and cover for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  10. Once there is significant liquid at the bottom of the pot and vegetables have taken on a ‘half cooked’ appearance, pour about 2/3 of the bottle of wine into the pot. If using sherry, do 2 cups.
  11. Add 2 tsp of black pepper, and 1 tsp sea salt. Feel free to adjust this to personal taste. Mix thoroughly.
  12. Add 1 tbsp Hers de Provence. Mix thoroughly. Cover and allow to stew for at least 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  13. This is a good time to start the starch you will be eating with the stew. I recommend white Basmati rice, or whole wheat rigatoni pasta.

The longer the stew goes, the more developed the taste will be. This can easily be adapted to a slow cooker.

Recommended serving:

1 cup of ratatouille
1/2 cup rice or 3/4 cup pasta

Topping with parmesan cheese is advised.

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