Rustic Italian ratatouille

I love veggies – all kinds!
When I make mention of my love for veggies, I see the staunch ‘meat and potato lovers’ around me pull ugly faces and scrunch up their noses. It’s as if I have just told them I enjoy eating charcoal or passed a silent but violent one in their presence. You can be a veggie lover and also enjoy eating meat and potatoes – it’s called having a balanced diet. And that’s one thing my family’s appetite is based on – balanced meals.
I have never quite understood why so many people are against ‘vegetables’. Is it because they’re healthy, not filling enough, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth or have people been force fed them as children? I’m not out to tell anyone to eat only vegetables; I could never imagine my life without meat. However, I think we need to give vegetables another chance, because they are not as bad as they are dubbed to be. There are so many recipes out there that make vegetables so interesting and tasty. They compliment other components on the plate and, I promise you, they add to that stuffed feeling. 
Recently, we have had an abundance of vegetables in our fridge, thanks to the generous Naidoo family. With many requests for vegetable recipes and my quest to try show the reluctant vegetable eaters out there that vegetables are not as bad as they are made out to be; I am sharing my mom’s rustic, robust and totally mind-blowing Italian ratatouille. Mom made a huge pot of this, and I just couldn’t get enough of it. The flavours are so beautiful; garlic (we all know how much I love garlic), white wine and tomatoes are all absorbed in the veggies used, making it juicy and so flavourful. I’m crazy about it, so much so I have been having it for lunch and supper two days in a row! And I’m so sad to see it finished.
We served this bold vegetable dish initially with thick pieces of steak and fried chips. It accompanies strong flavoured meats really well. If you are a vegetarian, to bulk it up serve it with warm crisp/hard breadrolls, rice, mashed potatoes or pasta. It’s versatile, easy to make, aromatic and a palette pleaser; yes even for those that initially stuck their noses up to it. The smell is way too enticing not to give this dish a try.         
2 Tsp Olive oil
3 onions
5 Cloves garlic (crushed)
5 Tomatoes
1 Tin tomato paste
3 Baby marrows
4 Patty pans
1 or 2 Eggplants (Aubergine)
1 green, yellow and red pepper
1 Tin chopped tomatoes
½ Cup white wine (optional) or use ½ Cup of water1 Tsp sugar

1 Tsp Garlic and herbs1 Tsp Italian herbs

1 Tsp Oregano

Salt and ground pepper to taste
Roughly chop the onions and, crush and chop the garlic. Blanche the tomatoes and roughly chop as well. Roughly chop the baby marrows, patty pans, eggplant (aubergine) and peppers into bite size pieces.
On a medium heat; heat olive oil in saucepan. Gently fry (sweat) the onions, garlic and tomatoes. Then add all the vegetables. Next add in the tin of chopped tomatoes, wine (or water), tin of tomato paste, sugar, Italian herbs, garlic and herbs, oregano and salt and ground pepper.
Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer over a medium to low heat. Simmer until the juice thickens and becomes a thick ‘soup’ consistency.  
·         Any vegetables can be used in this dish like corn, butternut or cauliflower…
·         You still want the vegetables to have a crunch, so do not over fry the onions in the beginning and try add each component fairly soon after one another.
·         Olives and feta or parmesan cheese sprinkled on top just before eating adds a nice touch to the dish and gives it added flavour.
Serves: 6 – 7

One thought on “Rustic Italian ratatouille

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