I am a grocery basket judge. By this I mean that I like to look in people’s grocery baskets in the checkout line and imagine their lives. I also feel frightfully superior when my basket trumps theirs. I am not exactly proud of this, just trying to honestly present my actions. On the days when my basket is bulging with eggs, cheeses, fresh pastas, vegetables and wine, I feel confident that my basket says “Hello, I am a domestic, health conscience person who has many people to cook for, and you?,” where as on the days that it consists of yogurt, Nutella, and cereal it says, “Hi. I am lame and just eat by myself without even taking time to cook. Got a problem with that?” Because I usually want to appear as the former, sometimes I think I buy things just because I like how they look, then I find myself having to quickly eat 5 leeks and an entire bag of fresh spinach before it goes bad.
Yesterday I decided I wanted to make ratatouille, but it was mostly because I love how the basket looks packed with beautiful vegetables and ratatouille is the highest concentration of vegetables (the pretty ones, that is) in one spot. Plus it is impossibly easy to make and delicious. I have asked around and there isn’t really a set ratatouille recipe, so feel free to just add more/ less of anything according to taste. Also, make sure to not look like a slob when you go to buy all these beautiful vegetables, because your basket can only speak so loud. (That’s right, now that I have stopped going to the grocery store in my running tights, my supermarket image is complete!)
-Here are all the vegetables I used: 1 eggplant, 2 zucchini, 3 shallots, 2 red peppers, one bunch of garlic (which was much smaller by the time I actually got to the garlic part), and a bunch of tomatoes. Basically the end goal is to get them all simmering in a pot, so imagine that and it will help you decide exactly how many you want. The amount that this makes would be a main dish for 3, side dish for 5-6.
-Peel the eggplant, onion, and zucchini. Wash the rest. Cut all the vegetables into small chunks about 1 cm thick. I quartered the cherry tomatoes and diced the onions and garlic.
-Toss them with 5 TBS olive oil and some salt and pepper.
-Pour into a big pot or deep skillet. Add about 1 cup of water and simmer, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft, about an hour and half. If you feel like it is getting too mushy, taste and decide.
-Can be eaten hot or cold, though I like it best hot, with a sprinkling on Parmesan cheese and big hunks of fresh baguette.
Note on the tomatoes: I used cherry tomatoes because they were on sale. I think you could also use regular or peeled whole canned tomatoes.