By NewsLine Staff
mail@floridanewsline.com

Vegetables are an important component of a nutritious diet because they are full of vitamins and minerals. According to the online medical resource Healthline, vegetables also are loaded with antioxidants and other plant compounds that help fight free radicals that damage cells.

Vegetable serving sizes typically range from one-half cup to one cup. The Mayo Clinic and other health organizations recommend three to four servings of vegetables per day. One way to ensure that vegetables are a primary part of your diet is to incorporate vegetable-rich dishes, such as ratatouille, into your weekly menu. Ratatouille is a vegetable casserole, and there are many different recipes for this beloved, flavorful dish. Julia Child’s incarnation is a standard. Enjoy it, courtesy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” (Knoph) by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle and Julia Child.

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Ratatouille

Serves 8

1 lb. eggplant
1 lb. zucchini
1 tsp. salt
6 to 7 tbsp. olive oil, more if necessary
½ lb. (about 1 ½ cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
1 lb. firm red tomatoes, or 1 ½ cups pulp
2 sliced green bell peppers (about 1 cup)|
2 cloves mashed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8-inch thick, about 3 inches long, and 1 inch wide. Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends, and cut the zucchini into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices. Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain. Dry each slice in a towel.

One layer at a time, saute the eggplant, and then the zucchini, in hot olive oil for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly. Remove to a side dish. In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Stir in the garlic and season to taste. Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8-inch strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice. Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil off several minutes, until juice has almost entirely evaporated.

Place one-third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of the casserole and sprinkle over it 1 tablespoon of parsley. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini, and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.

Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Correct seasoning, if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil. Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.

Set aside uncovered. Reheat slowly at serving time or serve cold. 

Photo courtesy MetroCreative

Ratatouille 

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