Enjoying Ratatouille in August

great tasting veggies fresh from the garden or the farmer's market

Well, we have passed the Civic Holiday weekend so we are nearing the end of “The Dog Days of Summer”.  According to the “Old Farmer’s Almanac” the Dog Days of summer begin on July 3rd and end 40 days later on August 11th. 

There are two big reasons why I like August.  The first is the weather.  I always thing August is the cooler of the 2 main summer months and that suits me just fine.  But more importantly August is the real start to the vegetable harvest and for me that is the best time to get the freshest local vegetables in Southern Ontario.  My Saturday mornings are spent at local farmers markets loading up on veggies picked on Friday or early Saturday morning.  Who can get any more just in time than that?

Below I have included my recipe of quick Ratatouille.  I love this kind of recipe because it is very forgiving.  You can add or subtract ingredients depending on what your family likes and what you have in the frig.  The other nice thing is that it is a colorful dish and as dietitians we are always encouraging people to eat a rainbow of vegetables and fruit to maximize your intake of vitamins and minerals.

A rainbow of veggies cut in bite sized pieces
Quick Ratatouille

• 2 Tbsp (30 mL) canola oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 clove garlic, crushed
• 1 medium eggplant, large-diced
• 1 red pepper, chopped coarsely
• 3 cups (750 mL) tomatoes, chopped
• 2 small zucchini, halved and sliced
• 1 tsp (5 mL) ground thyme
• 2 Tbsp (30 mL) tomato paste
• 1 tsp (5 mL) ground oregano
• 1 tsp (5 mL) dried basil
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

In large skillet, heat canola oil over moderate heat.
Add onion and garlic, sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add eggplant, red pepper, tomatoes and zucchini; sauté about 3 more minutes. Stir in thyme, tomato paste, oregano, basil, and salt. Simmer until vegetables are tender-crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve with crusty whole grain breads or over choice of whole wheat pasta or rice.  (In our family my husband doesn’t like oregano so I just leave it out.)

Yield: 6 servings.
Serving size: 1 cup (250 mL) each which is 2 servings of vegetables according to Canada’s Food Guide.

This mixture smells wonderful
Source: www.canolainfo.org

In the pictures above I switched up some of the vegetables in the recipe.  My niece gave me the yellow zucchini from her garden so I used it and added green pepper instead of red.  One of the great things about this type of recipe is that you can modify it in lots of ways depending on which veggies you have more of or which ones your family likes.  The recipe also freezes well if you want to package leftovers in small containers for a quick lunch.  This week I poached eggs in my Ratatouille for another variation on the theme.
a quick and easy dinner for 2
Enjoy fresh vegetables this week however you want to make them.
Margaret Ann R.D.