Friends, this is more than just a movie about a mouse who can cook. This is a delightful meal that hopefully will become a weekly staple in our home. I’m blown away by it!!! So we went back to our Annie’s box of Organics last week. At some point in November, I had cancelled my subscription. I had some issues with the box.
1. we get berries but never enough for the size of my family so the one box of blueberries goes the first day we get the box.
2. the box can sometimes get repetitive and we get the same vegetable a couple of weeks in a row (i.e. potatoes…and we really don’t eat potatoes, so that gets annoying)
3. some of the items in the box doesn’t have to be organic so we’re paying organic prices for some veggies we really can get cheaper elsewhere (i.e. avocados)
4. we don’t get to choose what we get.
We thought we had gotten to a place where we had explored most of what the box was going to give us and really we were veggie-savvy enough to go to Whole foods, or Publix or any other market and get whatever vegetables and fruits we wanted for the week without having someone else pick it for us.
RESULTS… The variety declined. Even though we would only get one little box of berries every other week, at least we were getting a box. We’d go to Whole Foods every week and rarely can we find organic berries. At least at our store. They’re simply not available. So we’d end up not eating berries at all instead of our one little box that we all enjoy thoroughly!
And then we started falling back on the most comfortable dishes…our cabbage soup, our salmon with cauliflower and asparagus, our veggie tray…but week after week we were eating the same meals and I even found myself going back to my blog to re-discover some of our own recipes because I didn’t know what to buy at the store.
January 7th we went back to our box. I went online and found that in the 2 little months I had strayed they had started a new box that they call the Paleo box. (Note: we are not on a Paleo diet but what I like about the Paleo box is that it excludes potatoes, which we rarely eat and don’t care to get in our box). So that was a good solution to one of our box complaints. And I also realized I could tweek my box however I wanted. If I want to add berries, I can pay a little more for that. If I’ve gotten one veggie too many weeks in a row, I can email them and ask them to substitute it with another item for the following week. There are options, I was just not exploring them. Of course I still have to go to the store and buy certain staples that didn’t come in my box. But I just simply love having my refrigerator stocked with veggies and fruits week after week and once I have them at the house, we eat them. Whereas for the last couple of months, I was buying fruits and vegetables of course because that is the main source of our diet, but I was actually being more repetitive when I was choosing them for myself, getting less variety (meaning less sources of nutrients) and always trying to remember what we would get in the first place. I feel like I have reconnected with my greens again and it feels wonderful!
But best of all… I discovered that I love having vegetables in my home that I did not choose at the store. WHY??? Because it forces us to use that vegetable before it spoils, and therefore look for recipes around that vegetable. That has proved easier for us than choosing a recipe and buying vegetables for that recipe. With 2 kids, 1 on the way, and work…we don’t have time to sit in front of a computer and browse through random recipes. But what is easier is googling – “eggplant recipes” and finding something that fits with our lifestyle.
And that is where our Ratatouille was born!! Ratatouille is basically a baked dish of layered vegetables. Yesterday we had an eggplant sitting in the fridge from our box last week (one of the only remaining vegetables in the fridge) and I told Orlando we had to use it. He browsed some recipes and decided to make the Ratatouille. Luckily we also had Shitake mushrooms from the last box and got heirloom tomatoes in the new box…ingredients that go into ratatouille. As usual, Orlando took what he liked from different recipes and came up with this…
Here is the recipe:
1 large Onion (sliced)
1 large eggplant (skin-on and in 1/2 inch cubes)
2 or 3 large tomatoes (thinly sliced)
2 cups mushrooms (sliced)
2 or 3 zuchinni (evenly sliced in rounds)
6 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1/2 large red bell pepper (chopped)
1/2 large green bell pepper (chopped)
– Preheat the oven to 375
– Chop and slice the veggies
– Saute the onion, mushrooms, and bell peppers in little olive oil adding salt and pepper
Make sure to not saute for too long. We are just trying to cook them down a bit, we don’t want them caramelized. I’d say 5 min max. Then set aside in a bowl.
– Now saute the eggplant in olive oil for about 8 minutes. The eggplant tends to soak in the oil, but don’t go over-board with olive oil either. Then when the 8 minutes are up, add the fresh garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Don’t forget to add salt and pepper while cooking!
-In a baking dish arrange just over half of the eggplant mixture
covering the bottom
-now layer the zuchinni slices on top like you are making a lasagna
-lightly oil and salt the zuchinni
-Now do the same with the tomato slices. Layer them on top of the zuchinni slices covering the top like you are making a lasagna. Add Salt and pepper to the tomatoes.
-Now layer the onion, mushroom, and pepper mixture on top of the tomatoes.
– Add a nice bit of parmesan atop the mixture
– layer remaining eggplant
– layer remaining zuchinni
– layer remaining tomatoes
– layer remaining onion mixture
– Add parmesan
– Place foil on top and bake for 45 minutes
We served this on whole wheat cous cous, but I think that quinoa or millet would be great too. The texture of the cous cous was awesome with the veggies.The cooking time on this dish is 45 minutes, which is a long time…but Orlando says that its not a labor intensive meal because there aren’t that many ingredients. I would suggest, if you are pressed for time, preparing it on a Sunday night so that you only have to put it in the oven the next day. I loved it so much I can’t wait to have it for lunch today and give it to the boys for dinner!
We hope you can enjoy it as much as we did!