Mediterranean Ratatouille

Mediterranean Ratatouille - Under the Monkey Bars

Ratatouille is a French dish loaded with succulent Mediterranean vegetables. Think juicy tomatoes fresh off the garden vine, giant zucchini ready to split, and of course shiny purple eggplant.

This is an easy weeknight meal that makes a giant pot full of yum. I can practically promise you leftovers. Serve Mediterranean Ratatouille in a bowl on its own, with crusty bread, over risotto or even lentils. Maybe add a side of grilled chicken or make it a Meatless Monday! Ratatouille is super heart healthy, high in fiber, and low on the glycemic index. How could it not be with all of those veggies!

Speaking of veggies, do you have a CSA? We have been getting lots of eggplant with our weekly Boston Organics deliveries and I’m so glad I remembered this recipe. Save it for when you have more eggplant and zucchini than you know what to do with!

Ratatouille is a fantastic recipe for anyone with food allergies or sensitivities because it’s naturally gluten free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, dairy free, soy free, and nut free. That’s a long list!! Keep this Ratatouille recipe in mind for your summer cook outs too. Or pair it with the Disney movie movie and maybe the monkeys will be more apt to eat it!

Bean will devour two bowls of Ratatouille whereas Sweet Pea asks for a small bowl without eggplant. I make a few dishes with eggplant and occasionally she will eat one or two pieces but she’s not a huge fan of the texture. I’ve always been flexible with the foods that the monkeys don’t like. However, I continue to serve them and never leave them out of a meal. I firmly believe that you have to try a food at least 10 times before you can say you don’t like it. And that’s not just for kids! Grown-ups too. Our palates change over time and you never know – you might surprise yourself!

Cómelo todo!

Mediterranean Ratatouille
Serves 6
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup olive oil
  2. 2 large onions, finely chopped
  3. 4 cloves garlic
  4. 1 large eggplant, cut into 1" cubes
  5. 3-4 medium peppers, cut into 1" chunks
  6. 4-6 small zucchini, cut into 1/4' slices
  7. 5-6 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped, or 1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 teaspoon coconut or date sugar
  10. 2 teaspoons dried oregano
Instructions
  1. Warm the oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
  2. When hot, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Add the eggplant and peppers and cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the zucchini, tomatoes (with juice), salt, sugar, and oregano.
  5. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  6. Adjust the seasonings and serve hot or cold.
Notes
  1. - Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
  2. - Cooks beautifully in my dutch oven.
Adapted from Eat Up Slim Down Annual Recipes 2005
Adapted from Eat Up Slim Down Annual Recipes 2005
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/
Note: If you’re in the Boston area, definitely look into Boston Organics. We’ve been a customer since last year and have been impressed with the convenience and quality. I absolutely love choosing what we don’t want to receive for produce week to week; the “No List” is the best. Use this code for 10% off your first delivery: 8319bob6jc.

Let’s Get Cooking!

FarmersMkt2

It was a shocking realization of mine about two years ago that I can actually cook. It still surprises me when something I make tastes good. Several things come into play here. You need the right recipes, ingredients, music, gear, and some confidence. 

I’m an all or nothing kind of gal. When Sweet Pea had her allergic reaction to coconut and Bean’s gluten allergy became more severe, we realized we couldn’t trust anyone to feed our little monkeys. I had to step up to the plate and cook ALL of the food for our family.

At first I cried. I cried a lot. And I’m not even a big crier. Going from being a family who ordered pizza and went out to eat every week to making EVERYTHING was beyond overwhelming. But it got easier and we got healthier. I would never say that the girls allergies are a good thing, but they did make our family a whole lot healthier.

I can’t tell you how many shirts I’ve ruined in my attempts to cook. So one of the first things I did was buy a really cute apron. That’s what you would do too, right?  I treated myself to this apron. The quality is fantastic and I love the colors; it makes me feel happy.

Then I did some research; I’m good at research. From my trusty Williams Sonoma catalogs, to cooking blogs and cookbooks, I found and stored hundreds of recipes in Evernote (the app that saves my life daily).  My family does not strictly follow the Paleo diet, but I figured out that if I search with the word “paleo” that Google will give me recipes that are unprocessed as well as gluten, soy, and mostly dairy free. 

I take recipes as a suggestion. Typically, there is at least one ingredient that can be swapped for something else. Unless you’re a pastry chef, amounts don’t need to be followed exactly (real chefs are probably shuddering). Once I figured this out, I felt a little more at ease in the kitchen. While I am a type A person, it stresses me out to have to be precise when I cook.

Another very important variable: good music. Crank it up! The girls and I dance while we cook. It makes it much more fun! On top of our cooking playlist right now are: Lonely Neighbor by Oh Honey, Happy by Pharrell Williams, On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons, and Light Me Up by Birdy. Don’t forget to put on all the lights. Make your kitchen sparkle.

Get everything out that you’ll need before you start.  This step is critical! It saves so much time and stress along the way. Sometimes I measure out each step in prep bowls. It works really well with chili and soups. And always buy the freshest ingredients. I try to buy local and organic whenever possible. CSAs, or Community Supported Agriculture, are an amazing way to teach the monkeys about where their food comes from and will challenge you to try new ingredients. In the winter, we love getting deliveries from Boston Organics (use code 8319bob6jc for 10% off your 1st order!).  We always hit the Newburyport Farmers’ Market whenever we’re home on a Sunday.

My friends helped me unpack our kitchen when we moved to this house a year and a half ago. They asked if I was starting a catering company, seriously. I *may* have too many kitchen gadgets and tools. I have since paired down my collection, but there are so many great time saving tools! You have to have the right gear to do the job, right? I cannot live without my little lemon squeezer. I cook with a ton of fresh lemon so I use it multiple times a day. Love, love, love this little guy. A few pairs of come-apart kitchen shears are a must. Quality cutting boards in different sizes. I use both my juicer and blender multiple times a week — like air and water!

If I can cook, so can you. I cook roughly 90 meals a month, or 1,000 meals a year – and that doesn’t even include snacks!  I have tested and re-tested recipes without even realizing it. I have so many more recipes to share with you!

It’s time to gear up. Take stock in your cabinets, see what you need, donate what you don’t, and get ready to have some fun in the kitchen. Let’s get healthy together. Are you in?