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Yid.Dish: Rockin’ Ratatouille

I had one of the worst days of my life today (definitely top ten, possibly top five) but things didn’t get really bad until I was midway through throwing together a ratatouille. I think it’s a testament to my recipe that basically forgetting the dish on a stove on high heat for a good twenty minutes while I panicked to the point of tears and probably aged a decade did not ruin the dish. In fact, though I was still a complete emotional wreck later in the afternoon, I was an emotional wreck with really good ratatouille for lunch. And if you’re going to be a bawling bundle of stress, you might as well be full of yummy CSA veggies.

I started making the ratatouille because I didn’t want any of our veggies to go to waste, but as far as I’m concerned the best thing about the dish is that it’s really filling, and makes an amazing alternative main course for vegetarians when everyone else is eating meat. I used to do the catering at the University of Iowa Hillel, and many a Shabbat there was chicken for meat eaters, ratatouille for the vegetarians, and nary a complaint. For anyone who worries about what to make for a vegetarian Shabbat meal, this recipe is for you.

Recipe after the break!

And don’t be scared off of ratatouille because of the otherwise excellent Ratatouille film, which makes ratatouille seem like an incredibly delicate and complex dish. Maybe it should be, but my recipe is mercifully easy, and rodent free. Take that, Pixar!

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Rockin’ Ratatouille

1 eggplant, chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 bell peppers (red, green or any combination thereof)
1-2 zucchini halved and sliced
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup chopped fresh basil, or 1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 can tomato paste
salt and pepper
¼-1/3 cup olive oil

In a big pan sauté the garlic for a minute, and then add all of the rest of the veggies, and the tomato paste. Stir for 2-3 minutes, lower heat to medium-high, cover and leave alone for 20-30 minutes, stirring when you remember, but not particularly often. After half an hour the veggies should be very soft, and the mixture should be thick uncover, stir, add basil, salt and pepper to taste, and you’re done. If you want to add more spices (cumin, or perhaps paprika) you certainly can, but just the veggies are plenty flavorful enough most of the time.

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Serve with rice and a green salad. Spinkle some feta or goat cheese on top if you’re falling fancy. Makes 6-8 servings.

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