Today’s Recipe: Ratatouille

This morning we woke to 40 degree weather with a wind of around 18 mph.  A good day for a warm and hearty stew recipe. I had all the ingredients for a wonderful Ratatouille so that is what I have made.

If you like zucchini and eggplant you will love this recipe. The cutting up of the veggies takes the most time, the cooking time is super fast and you end up with a very hearty meal.

Ratatouille

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Adobo seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 large red pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 large green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into sticks
  • 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 zucchini, cut into long sticks
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped including leaves
  • 1/2 lb ground beef (use better quality)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Parsley chopped for garnish

Use part of the olive oil to sauté the beef with the dry herbs. Set meat aside on a plate when almost cooked.  In the same pot add the balance of the olive oil and sauté the onions, celery and peppers for 2 minutes, add the balance of the veggies and cook just a few minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point you may need to add 1/4 cup of water but the veggies will release more of their own juices making more sauce. Add the ground beef and stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Check the tenderness of the veggies, they should hold their shape but be tender.  This is the time to make adjustments to the seasoning, adding salt or pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley and a grating of Parmesan cheese.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

This tastes even better the next day.  You can serve over a baked potato or rice to make a more filling meal.

This recipe is from Sandy Hill who we met in South Miami years ago.  We have lost contact over the years but this recipe has lasted the test of time.  Of course I have made several additions to make it my own but the basic recipe is the same as when Sandy had Joe and I over for dinner back in the late 70’s.

Oven Baked Zapallitos

Something new for us are these little green squashes.  Here they stuff these zapallitos with all sorts of things and bake.  I bought several and used a few in my ratatouille recipe.  Had two beauties left so I decided to make my own version of these little baked babies.

Oven Baked Zapallitos

  • 2 nice sized Zapallitos – cut tops off. Remove interior add this to other ingredients
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 red onion cut up in small pieces
  • 1/4 of a large red pepper
  • 3 oz. ground pork
  • 3 oz. ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • little cubes of cheese 2 oz or so
  • a few slices of mozzarella cheese for the top

Set the zapalittos aside. Place the olive oil to heat in a frying pan, add the oregano, garlic and sauté for one minute add the chopped meat and cook until the meat is no longer raw.  Move to a plate.  Add all the veggies and sauté for just a few minutes add the meat back and cook for just a few more minutes. Add salt and pepper and check to see if it needs more.

Add a few small cubes of cheese to the bottom on each squash. Add one large tablespoon of the filling, more cheese, continue filling until the mixture reaches the top of the squash. Press down to use all filling. Place the lid on top and put in a 350 oven for 30-45 minutes.  The squash shell should keep its shape.  Right before serving remove the squash top and add a slice of mozzarella cheese. Put back in the oven and allow to melt.

Serve alone or with rice or mashed potatoes for a great lunch or dinner.