Infuse Ratatouille With French Thyme

http://www.motherearthliving.com/Food-Matters/garden-giveaway-infuse-ratatouille-french-thyme.aspx

PBHobson2Patsy Bell Hobson is a garden writer and a travel writer. For her, it's a great day when she can combine the two things she enjoys most: gardening and traveling. Visit her personal blog at http://patsybell.com/ and read her travel writings at http://www.examiner.com/x-1948-Ozarks-Travel-Examiner. 

My garden is bursting with the main ingredients for Ratatouille, a chunky French stew. While you may not be thinking of stew in the heat of the summer, this rich vegetable stew will warm your soul this winter.

Ratatouille is a delicious way to preserve a lot of produce fast. It is even more flavorful reheated the next day. Use the following herbs and vegetables.

Herbs: rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano, bay, garlic

Vegetables: onions, bell peppers zucchini, eggplants, tomatoes

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Herbs are a must for Ratatouille, especially French thyme.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson
 

Basic Ratatouille

• 1 onion, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 large bell pepper
• 1 medium eggplant
• 2 or 3 large tomatoes
• 2 zucchinis

1. Coursley chop vegetables into bite-size portions.

2. Saute onions in a little olive oil, then add garlic.

3. Add bell pepper, eggplant, tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Cook for 15 minutes.

5. To preserve, divide the remainder of the stew into quart freezer containers, label, cool and freeze.

Tips For Cooking Ratatouille 

+ I have plenty of fresh herbs at the peak of summer so I like to add a few herb sprigs to the dish early. Just remember to remove them before serving.

+ Add zucchini or another summer squash to your stew for something a little different.

+ Cook covered over medium heat for about 10 more minutes, or until vegetables are done to your taste. Remove from heat, salt and pepper, and add fresh chopped herbs.

+ On the first snow day of the winter, put a quart of frozen ratatouille in the crockpot on low. By dinner time, your house will smell like a French restaurant. Being snowed in with a big bowl of rich, summery Ratatouille is a privilege for any home gardener.

+ My basic Ratatouille recipe is under-seasoned. To spice it up, season it with Herbs de Provence or add a combination of rosemary, parsley, thyme and, maybe, a cube of your frozen homemade pesto.

+ In my basic recipe, I add several whole cloves of garlic, which is different than the traditional French version. If this isn't your cup of tea, add a variety of squash, peppers or eggplants instead.

+ Serve as a stew with crusty bread, or, for a hardier meal, serve over rice, egg noodles, pasta or a baked potato.

+ I like to make a large batch of this stew and turn off the heat when the Ratatouille is slightly under cooked. Then I add fresh herbs, stir and cover it for 10 minutes.

Seed Packet Giveaway! 

I'm excited to announce another give away: Renee's Garden is giving away French thyme seed packets to three lucky Herb Companion readers. Winners will be chosen at random. Details below.

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HOW TO ENTER: 

• Post a comment below: Tell us how you use thyme. Do you grow it? Do you cook with it? What's your favorite thyme-infused recipe? Courtesy Renee's Garden. 

•End Date: August 20, 2010 (12:00 AM, Central Time) UPDATE: Time's up! 

And the winners are ... 

FrenchThymeComment1
Felicia in Somers, Wisconsin

FrenchThymeComment2
Deborah in Plainville, Georgia

FrenchThymeComment3
MJ in Pea Ridge, Arkansas

Winners were chosen using www.random.org. Thanks to everyone who entered my Garden Giveaway! Watch out for even more giveaways.