This morning, when a friend dropped off a bag of tomatoes from her garden, I knew immediately what I wanted to make –  ratatouille.

Perfect, I thought as I realized I already had the rest of the ingredients in my fridge. 

My daughter Kelly loves ratatouille. But since I’d been avoiding tomatoes, eggplant and peppers (all nightshade vegetables), I hadn’t made ratatouille in years.

Ratatouille is the perfect summer meal topped with fresh pesto and served with a warm baguette, gluten free of course! Think of it as a summer stew, rich with flavor from fresh picked garden vegetables.

Kelly likes her vegetables “mushy” as she says. Translated, that means overcooked. With a one pot meal like this, I make it her way. So my ratatouille has multiple steps. If you like your veggies more firm, feel free to skip the last step of placing the pan in the oven.

To help magnify the rich layers of flavor, make the ratatouille a day ahead of when you plan to serve it. I think it’s delicious cold or hot, by itself or served along side roasted fish, grilled chicken, steak or even in an omelette. The possilbilities are endless really 🙂

Ratatouille

1 large or 2 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into approximately 1/2 inch cubes
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil, divided
3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
2 orange or red peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 large vine ripened tomatoes, cut in to 1/2 inch chunks
1 tablespoon herbs de provence
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon red chilli pepper flakes
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add the eggplant and season with salt. Cook until beginning to brown, stirring frequently, adding more oil if it sticks to the pan. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and stir in the onion. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until soft and translucent. Add herbs and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the peppers. Cook for a few more minutes, then add the zucchini. Allow zucchini to soften before adding tomatoes, about another 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes being careful not to stir too much. Gently stir the eggplant back into the pan before placing the pan in the oven.

Preheat oven to 350. Place pot in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Remove and let rest for 30 minutes before serving. Top with pesto, fresh slivered basil leaves and goat cheese.

Serves 6