If I had all the time in the world, a scenario that will 100% never occur, I would write down all of the lists I wish to write down in my head: what not to wear when I am old; what not to do to my child when she’ll be a teenager; why I went to law school; how I want to treat my mother; how not to react to new perspectives, ideas, and dishes!
The capacity to forget certain experiences- pain, sorrow, suffering, and inflict the same on those around us is a curious human condition. ‘Don’t do onto others what you don’t like done onto you’ is a good ideal, yet oh so easy to break on a routine basis, with every sentence, every attitude, every dirty look. Practicing empathy can be a full time job and thanks, but I already have one of those, so the lists I was thinking of making would come in handy, but right, there is no time for those either.
The rant comes from watching my mother, whom I love dearly, completely dismiss a dish that took me very long to prepare (no, not the one I am sharing today). The dish or preparation are irrelevant. The fact that that is just my mom and I should have made peace with it a long time ago is also irrelevant. My explanation for her attitude is that her defense mechanism for her own cooking, lifestyle, beliefs is to reject and mock all that is new and inconsistent. I am my mother’s daughter and have the same tendencies she does. Lesson and item to add to the list I will never get to make is ‘don’t do that.’
Ratatouille, the way my mother would NOT make it, a Duo recipe
Ingredients: 1/2 cup olive oil; 1 large yellow onion, diced; 1 medium eggplant, diced; 1 large red bell pepper, diced; 2 medium zucchini, diced; 1 medium yellow squash, diced; 3 garlic cloves, minced; 4 tablespoons tomato paste; 1/4 cup water; 1 pinch chili flakes; 2 tablespoons chopped parsley; juice of half a lemon; salt and pepper to taste; a fresh baguette and 4 oz of your favorite goat cheese.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced yellow onion and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 12 minutes and transfer in a colander over a bowl. Add two more tablespoons of olive oil to the pot and add the diced eggplant. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over it and cook for about 12-14 minutes or until cooked through and tender. Transfer the eggplant in the colander with the onions.
Add a couple more tablespoons of olive oil to the pot and lower the heat. Cook the red bell pepper until tender- 12-15 minutes. And by know you should know what’s next- put the pepper in the colander.
Pour more oil to the pot and cook zucchini and yellow squash after you sprinkle it with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes or until tender and cooked through. Transfer to the colander.
More oil in the pan to saute the garlic. Add the tomato paste to the sauteed garlic and stir for about a minute. Pour in the water. Bring the tomato, garlic, water mixture to a boil then cook for 2-3 minutes.
Return all of the vegetables to the pot and blend it all together. Toss in the lemon juice, chopped parsley, chili flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve it warm or cold over a toasted slice of baguette, top with goat cheese, and share it with loved ones.
Photography by Jennifer Olson.
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