I truly love to garden. My father and my grandfathers always kept beautiful gardens. More than the gardening itself though, I love the produce that comes out of the garden… But, I must confess since I have had my two little cherubs, I haven’t really found the time needed to keep up a good garden… I used to produce beautiful tomatoes, hearty cucumber plants, shiny purple egg plants, and squash that would last right through to Thanksgiving! That was pre-kids though… I have had a couple of half-hearted attempts since then, but there is something about being 7,8 and 9 months pregnant in the summer heat that does not really endorse the sweat that goes into maintaining a good garden. And so that started it off… I will do little project with my kids, like planting peas or digging up potatoes, clipping fresh mint… but next year I am determined to have my full fledged garden once again!
Luckily, I live in an area where there is no shortage of farm stands or Farmer’s Markets! Yay me! So, although it’s not quite as satisfying as growing something yourself and turning it into a delicious life-sustaining meal… it’s still pretty great and I get to support the local farming community along the way. This meal is a prime example of how to turn gorgeous in season produce into something really quite amazing. If you have never tried Ratatouille, I suggest you do! Chock full of 5 different veggies that are all in season right now, Ratatouille is great way to either put those home grown goodies to good use or to support your local economy and eat a healthy and nutritious meal at the same time!
A traditional dish developed in the French country side, Ratatouille is meant to use up whatever vegetables a farmer might have on hand. I prefer to limit that to these 5… eggplant, zucchini, pepper (bell), onions and tomatoes (EZ-POT). It is great as a side dish or a main dish if you are a vegetarian, but my most favorite way to enjoy this dish is over a bed of buttered egg noodles and topped with some beautifully grilled shrimp. Let me show you how I do it…
Start off by preparing your vegetables. I am chopping these onions pretty large, about the size of a half-dollar… so you will either need one large onion as I have here or two medium.
One sweet bell pepper will do it and be sure to keep the size relatively the same as you did the onions.
Keeping the veggies all around the same size, chop your zucchini.
Aren’t these mini egg plants just beautiful? I found these at a local Farmer’s Market and I knew I needed to figure out some way to use them!
They are so small that most of them, I simply cut in half, but the larger ones, I quarter.
Grabbed these beautiful Roma tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market too.
That’s it for prepping your veggies, now let’s move on to the cooking… You will need one medium heavy bottom pot, I am using a enamel coated cast iron pot. You will also need a bowl used to keep the sautéed veggies as you go through each step.
Start with some olive oil in a nice heavy bottomed pot… You will continue to add in just a tablespoon or so of olive oil before each sauteing each vegetable.
Saute vegetables one at a time and remove from pot when through with each one, reserving them for the end. I start with my onions.
Next I move on to my zucchini. I have removed the perfectly cooked onions so they don’t get over cooked.
After removing my zucchini, I add in a bit more olive oil and saute my mini egg plants. I continue this process next with the peppers and the tomatoes.
Once the tomatoes have been sautéed, add in all the reserved veggies… Then add in the fresh herbs and taste for salt and pepper… add if needed. Simmer for 10 minutes and serve hot. (at this point you could also add 1 clove of garlic, minced)
Add in a couple sprigs of thyme. Mine is young thyme from a little plant I have in my kitchen, so no need to remove the leaves, if you have a heartier plant, just remove the leaves and chop a bit.
My Rosemary is also from a plant in my kitchen, but is a bit more hearty, so I removed the leaves from about half a sprig and chopped them before adding into my pot.
After simmering for 10 minutes, this should be your end result.
Now to get some quick shrimp going…
Simply sprinkle some Hungarian Paprika (if you don’t have the Hungarian variety, just add about a 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper to 1 Tbs. of plain paprika). Add on a sprinkle of kosher salt and your prep is done. These are easy peel, deveined shrimp.
Lay them out on a hot grill pan that has been drizzled with a bit of olive oil.
When they start to get pink, after about a minute, flip each one and cook another minute or so.
Recipe for Ratatouille with Shrimp & Buttered Egg Noodles:
For the Ratatouille:
1 large onion, large diced
1 medium zucchini, sliced and halved
1 small eggplant (or 8 mini eggplants), large diced
2-3 Roma tomatoes, sliced and halved
1 sweet bell pepper, large diced
2 sprigs fresh Thyme, chopped
1/2 sprig Rosemary, chopped
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
10 Tbs. olive oil
For the Shrimp:
1 dozen large shrimp, deveined and easy peel
2 tsp. Hungarian paprika
kosher salt to taste
1 Tbs. olive oil
For the Egg Noodles:
1/2 package broad egg noodles
6 cups salted water
1/4 stick butter
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
In a medium heavy bottomed pot set over medium heat, saute each vegetable in 2 Tbs. of olive oil separately keeping the tomatoes for last. After each vegetable is sautéed, set aside and reserve. After the last vegetable is sautéed, the tomatoes, add in all the reserved vegetables. Add in herbs and salt and pepper and simmer for ten minutes.
Add Hungarian Paprika and salt to shrimp in a small bowl. Then, in a hot grill pan drizzled with 1 Tbs. olive oil, grill shrimp on both sides until pink throughout.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in noodles. Cook to package specifications. Drain… Add in butter salt and pepper.
On a platter… Lay out egg noodles first, then layer on the Ratatouille and then top with shrimp. Serve, enjoy!
*Note: Ratatouille itself along with the shrimp are gluten-free… use rice noodles in keeping with the set up of the dish or serve without noodles.