Back home we say: “Der April macht was er will” which means that “April does what it wants”. Given the agricultural background of my valley, this saying refers to the weather and the fact that it is highly unreliable during the month of April. I thought of this these past few weeks when my two boys spent more than one day at sailing regattas (or practices) rigging, de-rigging, sailing and bailing in miserable wet and cold conditions. Overall, they were troopers and I tried to have a hearty pot of comfort food waiting for them at home. In addition to goulash, chili con carne and pulled pork, I knew I would make them happy with a big pot of ratatouille. Have you made ratatouille before? This week you get a chance to try it, too. Come and cook with us!
Ratatouille is French and consists of a simple dish featuring zucchini, onions, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes either stewed on the stove-top or, my preference, first roasted in the oven and then combined and stirred with a nice dose of tomato paste to let the flavors meld. In fact, the word ratatouille is a blend of the French words ratouiller to disturb, shake and tatouiller to stir. It’s a hearty vegetarian dish that gets better over time and tastes just as good cold as it does warm. So make a lot, make it often and don’t be afraid of left-overs.
My kids favorite way to eat ratatouille is over soft polenta with either a poached egg or some tasty melted cheese layered in between, preferably gorgonzola dolce but any decent melting cheese will do.
In Italy, we have a similar dish called peperonata which comes from the word “peperone” which isn’t the “pepperoni” you put on your pizza but rather, bell peppers. It’s similar and often also features potatoes which are usually not in a ratatouille.
So next time you’re in the supermarket, stock up on zucchini (non-GMO), eggplants, bell peppers (organic as per EWG’s 2016 Dirty Dozen list which is hot off the press), onions and tomato paste and make a big pot of ratatouille. Hope you and yours like it as much as mine do! Come and cook with us!