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Ratatouille Southern Style

 Ratatouille Southern Style

A few years back, the kid’s blockbuster, “Ratatouille” hit the theatres worldwide. A huge promotion machine ensued, with film crews planted outside of theatres, asking the question, “can you pronounce the word ratatouille? Answers came flying in, and they tickled me to no end. Here are some of my favourites: “Erm, rata-ta-toil?,” or, “Oh heck, it’s about a rat, Rat-Ta-Tat-Tat!” My favorite, and closest, was a gentlemen that enthusiastically bellowed “Rat-tat-woooeeeeeee!!” as if he had slipped on a banana peel. Before we mentally meander on to how so many could not pronounce the word, it behooves us all to move on to the recipe. Oui!!

This recipe has all of the elements of a classic ratatouille, with a southern twist. I have added sweet potato instead of white, brown muscovado sugar for an earthy sweetness, red pepper flakes for a kick, and a pinch of cinnamon for gentle flavor and aroma. This dish is wonderful served with my Spiced Couscous. If there are any leftovers the next day (good luck), you can also eat the ratatouille with sliced baguette, sopping up all the delicious juices.

Ratatouille Southern Style

1 medium eggplant (aubergine) diced
1 cup carrots diced
1 sweet potato peeled and cubed
2 medium heirloom tomatoes deseeded and chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper deseeded and cut into chunks
2 medium zucchini sliced into rounds
1 large red onion chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
3/4 cup good quality olive oil (regular, not extra)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
pinch of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon light brown muscovado sugar
3 cups filtered water

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic until soft. Add the eggplant, and cook on medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. 

Heat a few more tablespoons of oil, add the carrots to the pot and cook for five minutes., stirring frequently. Add the zucchini, red pepper and red pepper flakes, cooking for another five minutes. Remove the zucchini and set aside in the bowl (zucchini is a softer vegetable, so return them to the pot when the dish is almost finished to avoid overcooking).

Transfer the eggplant back to the pot with the vegetables, adding the filtered water, sweet potato, chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, tomato puree, and muscovado sugar. Salt and pepper to your taste.  Stir well, cover and cook on low heat for 45 minutes. 25 minutes later, return the zucchini rounds to the ratatouille. stir, and cover for the remaining 20 minutes. 

Serve with Spiced Couscous: (find it at the lower half of the post)

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