So a couple things. One is that I am not the perfect shopper nor am I the perfect cook, but generally I do not shop for “summertime produce” when it is not summertime. But these days I work at a grocery store…a cooperative and somewhat fancy grocery store but nonetheless still a grocery store. And one of the benefits, as an employee, is that we are allowed to take bruised or damaged fruits and vegetables, gratis (what is not taken by employees is donated to local organizations). So this is how I came upon the possession of most of these vegetables. I can still remember the look on my co-worker’s face as I squat and rummaged through the box of unsalable produce and muttered to myself…”It looks like ratatouille for dinner tonight.” With this said, this is an exceedingly easy but delicious recipe. I added broth and tomato sauce to make it saucy enough for pasta, but it is delicious with or without the added broth. What’s great about this recipe is that it can be eaten hot, room temperature, or–in the summertime–chilled. As usual, this recipe is not carved in stone…add chicken or seafood or whatever other vegetables or seasonings that you prefer or have on hand. It’s delicious, healthy, and will make you think of the summer.

Ratatouille with Broth

Makes about 4 cups

¼ cup olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and diced

1 medium bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 small eggplant, diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon whole fennel seed

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 cup tomato sauce

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, bell peppers and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat, or until they begin to brown. Add the zucchini and eggplant; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, basil, fennel, crushed red pepper, tomato sauce, and broth. Bring to a boil, then lower it to a slow simmer; cook for about 30 minutes, stirring as needed. If it becomes too dry add more broth. Serve over pasta or rice, as a side dish, or as a dip with toasted bread. Like a soup, this recipe tastes better the second day.

Urban Simplicity.

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