Our friend, Wendy, is becoming our very own "produce lady." She was the one who gave us the apples for the Apple Crisp, and this week she gave us some eggplant. What do you do with eggplant, anyway? We haven't done much, and I do have this weird thing against purple vegetables. But Mom looked it up in the BCC, and found out it is a star player in a dish called "Ratatouille." We've never made it before at the Spoon Drop Inn, and eggplant is not a common ingredient we use, so we decided this is one of those cooking adventures we'd just have to charge boldly into.
By the way, the BCC does give a good "Eggplant 101" section on how to choose a good eggplant, how to serve it, how to cut it, and how to cook it. So if anyone is like us and is a novice to the purple vegetable game, the BCC helps tremendously!
All I really knew about Ratatouille was that it was colorful and French and reminded people of home... and these guys make it well:
Ratatouille (from p. 426 of the BCC): Mom got a little more information by quickly scanning the recipe. It called for eggplant, zucchini, green pepper, onion, and tomato - all of which she had in her kitchen this week, thanks to her own garden and Wendy's generosity! It's basically a stir-fry. Once you cut up all the veggies and mixing them with oil, garlic, salt and pepper, you just cook and stir them on the stove for about ten minutes. As soon as mom put them in the pan to cook, the smell filled the kitchen and was amazing. It smelled like... a lush late-summer garden saying hello to autumn. This picture cannot capture the smell, but it does show off the colors, doesn't it?
The BCC doesn't give any suggestions for what to serve with Ratatouille. You could probably do pasta or rice or kuskus, depending on if you're in a European, Asian, or African mood. But today Mom made barbecue chicken and mashed potatoes, which really complimented the veggies well!
I loved this, and think it might be a new comfort food for me. Mom liked it too, and is already brainstorming ideas for adding cheese or making it a casserole in the future. When I asked Dad if he liked the Ratatouille, he said, "Sure! And the vegetables were pretty good too!" And Kevan's professional opinion was this: "Eggplant has never been more desirable!" Just like in the movie, the Ratatouille passed the food critics test with flying, savory colors of purple, green, and red!