Ratatouille is a fantastically simple dish. At its best, it is just tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, and bell peppers cooked to perfection in olive oil. It is traditionally served with French bread, but here I made it with polenta, which is Italian corn meal mush.
I started with these ingredients:
I used one medium eggplant, 2 zucchinis, a can of tomatoes, Italian herb seasoning, garlic, and bay leaves. I didn't have any bell peppers, but you could definitely add one. Fresh tomatoes are also a nice touch in place of the canned ones.
This version is my "quick" version of ratatouille, so I'm making it all in one pot (preferably use a ceramic coated cast iron pot, if you have one). If I had more time, I might roast the eggplant separately in the oven before adding it to the stew. But this way works well too!
Into the pot, I put about 1/2 cup of olive oil. No, this is not a low fat dish. But olive oil is healthy! Heat to medium high and add the eggplant and zucchini. Saute for 5-8 minutes, until the eggplant starts to soften:
At this point, go ahead and add 1 t. Italian seasoning, 1 t. garlic powder, and about 1/2 t. salt.
Cooking eggplant always takes longer than I expect. It has a spongy texture that takes a while to soften. If you use the smaller, lighter purple Japanese eggplants, they will cook more quickly.
Now add your can of tomatoes and 1 bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down. This will need to simmer on medium low for about 20 minutes. You will know it's done when the eggplant is as soft as butter:
There we go! You can check your salt levels at this point and add more if needed.
In the meantime, you can cook your polenta. It only takes a few minutes. I had the "quick cooking" kind, which is even faster. I cooked it according to package instructions, 1 cup polenta with 2 1/4 c. water.
If you've never tried polenta, it's a great alternative to pasta for all your Italian cooking needs! Put any kind of sauces or proteins on top you like, and voila! A tasty gluten free dinner. It's also great the next day! Once it's cold, you can slice it and fry the slices in olive oil. Yum.
Anyway, back to the ratatouille. To serve, I just put a small serving of polenta in the bottom of the bowl, ratatouille on top, and a bit of Parmesan cheese.
I know I'm totally mashing together a French classic and Italian food here, but hey, it tasted great. Let me know if you try this!
I'm a school librarian, cookbook author, and longtime fan of food and literature. Welcome to my blog!