Winter Ratatouille

Winter Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a medley of vegetables, sauteed, baked or stewed into a savory side dish.  The traditional version calls for a base of tomatoes, eggplant and basil.  My nontraditional version searches for the balance of winter to spring, light to dark, and earthy to bright.  Around this time of year, February, I get that aching in my bones for warmth and sun.

Potatoes and hearty root vegetables feel too heavy, lethargic almost.  I need bright food and sunshine.  Winter Ratatouille has seasonal elements, tomato is substituted for carrot, sage for basil.  Warm olive oil coaxes onions to stew in my cast-iron pan as chard is introduced to the heat.  I finish it with a dash of fresh, fruity olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, allowing citrus to wake up my food and mind.  Spring is just around the corner.  Until then, we dine together and toast to the Sun.

Foodie Note: Make this into a meal by topping the vegetables with cooked lentils or black beans.  Trader Joe’s has cooked lentils in the refrigerated section, which I purchase often and highly recommend.

Serves 4:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion
1 bunch chard or kale, cleaned, stemmed, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, peeled

1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

1 clove garlic, minced
2 zucchini
1 red bell pepper
4 lemon wedges

Slice all vegetables into similar sized pieces, about 1/2″ thick.  Heat olive oil in a large cast iron pan to medium high heat, add onions and saute for about 5 minutes, reducing heat to medium as onions begin to brown.  Add chard and carrots, sage, rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, saute for 3 minutes.  Add garlic, zucchini and bell pepper.  If vegetables seem dry, add a tablespoon of water.  Cook 10-12 minutes, until vegetables are soft and brown, but carrots have a slight bite.   Season with salt/pepper.  Portion into bowls, drizzle with good extra-virgin olive oil and serve with a fresh wedge of lemon.  Top ratatouille with a few spoonfuls of cooked lentils to complete the meal.