This is a wonderful time of year when nature provides us with fresh vegetables that are full of flavor and nutrition. As a Chef and Fitness Nutrition Specialist I find this combination to be blissful! For climbers who are still getting out there camping, this will warm your souls and fill your hungry bellies with warm goodness.
This is a simple recipe that can be made at camp or made at home in advance. I have adapted it from an old Moosewood Cookbook, and it is the best ratatouille I have tasted. Served with some brown or white rice, it makes a hearty vegetarian meal. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I do.
3 T olive oil
4 medium cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 chopped onion
1 bay leaf
1 eggplant, cubed (you can peel it if you prefer)
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp dried basil (4 ½ T fresh)
1 tsp dried marjoram or basil (1 T fresh)
½ tsp dried rosemary (1 ½ tsp fresh)
½ tsp dried thyme (1 ½ tsp fresh)
1 zucchini, cubed
2 bell peppers (green red, orange, or yellow)
1 15 ½ oz can of diced tomatoes (or 1 lb. fresh tomatoes, chopped)
black pepper, to taste
Optional: fresh chopped green olives are a great addition
Hint: you can mix up the herbs at home to save time and space at camp
1. Put eggplant in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt and dried herbs. If you are using fresh basil, set it aside and add in step 4.
2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a deep skillet or Dutch over and add the onion, garlic & bay leaf. Sauté until onion is translucent (about 5 minutes)
3. Add the eggplant mixture. Stir, cover, and cook, stirring now and then, until eggplant is soft (about 15 minutes). You may need to add some water if the mixture becomes too dry and starts to get brown
4. Add zucchini, bell pepper, & tomatoes. Cover and simmer another 10 minutes or until the zucchini and bell peppers are tender.
If you are using fresh basil, add it here.
5. Adjust seasoning to your taste and serve with white or brown rice and topped with chopped green olives if you desire. I mostly eat brown rice, but white rice is soooo good with this dish!
Note on using fresh herbs: If converting dried to fresh herbs in any recipe, just triple the amount. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tsp. dried herbs, use 1 T fresh herbs ( 3 tsp equals 1 T– knowing this has made my life much simpler on many occasions). It’s best to add basil later in the cooking process.