warning: when starting your own venture of kids cooking in the kitchen… it might be a good idea to time it when they are on a movie kick of something other than the famous “Ratatouille”
If not, when it comes time for your 7 yo to make his menu decision,
His eyes might get super duper wide,
Light up like a christmas tree,
and may even send sparks that turn on the light bulb that just appeared above his head
as he shouts (yes, SHOUTS!) RATATOUILLE! that’s what I want to make, mom, RATATOUILLE!!
… and for about half a second you will second guess your whole venture into this kids in the kitchen program of yours and offer to send out for McDonalds on his night, just to back down.
But you don’t. Because you are the mother and you are instilling so much more than meals with this little venture, and you know you can’t stop now.
So you get onto the internet (because, let’s be honest, the only version of ratatouille that you have seen was, indeed cooked by a cartoon rat on the disney movie).
You see that it’s a summer dish, so you try the logical approach…
“hey honey, how about we try this in the summer when we have all of the yummy vegetables from the garden to cook it?”
“No! I want to make it this week.”
“but honey, all of the directions say that it doesn’t taste as good in the winter – it uses a lot of vegetables from the garden, so it would be hard to find ones right now that taste very good.”
“But I really want to make it this week. pleeeeeeeeeease????”
Put that together with his puppy dog eyes, that you know that he knows that you are a sucker for,
and you suddenly find yourself making a shopping list for ‘ratatouille’
which has eggplant.
lots and lots of eggplant…
(which, though you have taught about the many health benefits found in this odd-looking vegetable, truth be told, you have never actually used it in your own kitchen. And even more truth be told, it scares you to do it now).
… and chopping
lots and lots of chopping
which, I learned is a benefit of having a menu ahead of time. When you know there will be lots of pre-prep, you can do it ahead of time (i.e. on Sunday afternoon, we did all the chopping, so come Monday – our crazy day – all we had to do was throw everything in the pot!)
wouldn’t you know it, we all loved the ratatouille!
… of course in an effort of self-disclosure, we did change up the recipe a bit (as we almost always do when cooking!). Some of the eggplant was bad, so to help us save time, I substituted potatoes for half of the eggplant called for. Of course I had to throw in some of my Idaho roots! I may be a bit biased, but I think it worked out even better than having the whole eggplant portion (or maybe I’m still a little bit scared of said eggplant???).
Just in case you are dying to try this great *summer* dish:
(adapted from food network and norecipes.com):
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (1-2 onions)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups egg plant (we did 1 1/2 cup potato and 1 cup egg plant) chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 cup diced green bell peppers
1 cup diced red bell peppers
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup diced yellow squash (we couldn’t find this, so we just did 1 cups zucchini)
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced tomatoes
15 oz diced tomatoes in can, undrained
1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, sliced
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper as needed
sauté onions and garlic in the oil until slightly caramelized. Add eggplant (or potatoes) and thyme until slightly cooked (about 5 min if only using eggplant… about 10 if using potatoes). Add all peppers, zucchini and squash. Cook another 5 min. Add tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. If using potatoes, need to boil for a while until potatoes are soft. If just using eggplant, just need to cook for about 5 more minutes.
Can serve warm or cold. We liked it warm, served with french bread. Yummy!!
(my other son even asked to take it for school lunch a couple of days later – true sign of success!!)