Monday, September 5, 2011


The first time I made ratatouille, the kitchen caught on fire.  Really.  The oil from the pot boiled over and before I knew it, grease was spitting and hissing and flames were shooting up to the ceiling.  I grabbed my 3-month old baby, wrapped him in a towel - I had started to give him a bath - and ran out of the house while shouting to my neighbor to call 911.

I greeted some very hunky firemen with my hair sticking up and my clothes plastered to me from a very wet baby.  I was quite a sight.  But the fire was actually put out by another neighbor, even before the fire trucks arrived.  Still, the firemen insisted on checking out the house completely, and I just couldn't get rid of them fast enough so I could change my clothes . . . and put a diaper on the baby.

Miraculously, the ratatouille was not ruined.  In fact, it was amazing.  Here's a dish that embodies all the glory of the Mediterranean:  Tomatoes, olive oil, eggplant, basil, peppers . . .  Serve it with lamb, roast pork, or even just parsleyed rice . . . It's so delicious!

Here's the recipe:

1½-2 cups extra virgin olive oil
4 small eggplants, roughly 4 lbs., cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons of salt
2 medium onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 zucchini, washed, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into thirds
2 red peppers, cut into ½-inch strips
2 green peppers, cut into ½-inch strips
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 14.5-oz. Italian Plum tomatoes
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
a pinch of red pepper flakes
black pepper to taste

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Pour one cup of olive oil into an aluminum roasting pan (easier clean up), add the eggplants with the salt.  Stir.  Cover the pan with foil and bake for about a half hour until the eggplant is cooked but not too soft.  Stir a couple of times during baking to coat the eggplant with the oil.
  3. In a large dutch oven, heat remaining cup of oil and add the rest of the ingredients.  Cook on low heat for about 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Add the eggplant mixture and cook an additional 15 minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, especially the salt.
If you serve it as a side dish, it should yield at least 12 portions.

And here's a picture of John plastered to me, right after his bath (but on a different day).  I've posted this photo before, but it always makes me smile and brings back such happy memories.  I thought this was the perfect excuse to show it one more time . . .

And, be still my beating heart, somehow I've managed to be on theme for the Photo of the Day Weekly Challenge - Been There, Done That!


Marlis said...

What a darling photo!! Both of you are so cute.. Had that been me, I'd never had tried Ratatouille again.. but yours looks amazing.. Thank you very much for your well wishes for the parents.. They are both doing very well. xo marlis

Amanda said...

While your ratatouille looks delicious, that photo of you and your son is heart warming :) His eye contact with the camera is perfect! I can see why you would repost it.

Reds said...

Didn't know ratatouille was so dangerous to make!! I haven't made any for so long but your recipe and pic makes me want to go to the market, get the veggies, and make some tonight!! Love the pic of you and your son!

Margaret said...

Oh my goodness! What a great story! The ratatouille looks so yummy. I love that photo of you and your son. So adorable!

Barb said...

I love that picture of you and John. How quickly the time goes. That might be a good recipe for me to try.

Nicki said...

You Cubans are so spicy in the kitchen {wink wink}- I'm with Celine - who knew ratatouille was so dangerous. lol! Looks fabulously delicious and I adore the picture of you and your son. I'm all about pulling out old pictures of the kids when ever possible.

Thanks for the kind comments on my blog.It is funny that you mentioned the nature of the second born being more laid back. I am always amazed at the common characteristics that can be applied to kids who are first born versus 2nd, 3rd and so forth. Even though there were 4 of us, I have more of a middle child syndrome (sometimes a little too much Marsha, Marsha, Marsha). Enjoy your day!

Alycia Nichols said...

Good morning, Maria! Those little hooded they even make them anymore? I always thought they were just the cutest little things! John looks adorable in it! Sorry to hear about your first ratatouille disaster, but at least you did get to look at some hunky firemen! No problem with that! :-)

Unknown said...

Your quote "If I stitch fast enough" made me laugh!
Love your blog!
Thanks for stopping by!
Kerry at