Slow Cooker Ratatouille

Two super amazing things mashed up are really just one big super awesome amazing thing, right? Yessir!

Take the slow cooker, which is pretty much a must-have no matter if you cook or not. Like, even if you live in the tiniest New York City apartment and can’t even cook a peanut butter sandwich, you MUST have a slow cooker. I don’t use mine as much as I could. As a matter of fact, every time I have it out, I say to myself “I need to make more things in my slow cooker.” It takes like a nanokilowatt or something to run it all day long. And, seriously, you throw some stuff in it and turn it on, and a mere few hours later, it’s hot, ready and smells amazing.

That’s what I did with this ratatouille. Ratatouille is another amazing thing in my book. It’s old-timey French peasant food. Peasants in every culture have had the best kept secrets in the kitchen. It’s probably because they had to be creative and industrious and make every morsel of food count to feed large families on a few scraps. Ratatouille is a stew-ish dish with a ton of veggies and some herbs. That’s pretty much it. It’s amazing how something can be so fabulously simple and delicious. Actually, I find that sometimes the most simple dishes are the sleepers–the one’s that knock your socks off. This is no exception.

So, I did not cook this in the classic manner. And that pains me for a hot second because Joel Robuchon is quoted right there on the wikipedia page saying that the secret to a good ratatouille is to cook the vegetables separately. But only for a hot second, because this ratatouille, while not cooked in the classical manner is delicious AND easy. If you’re looking for the traditional preparation of the dish, you’re on the wrong page. If you’re looking for a hearty vegetable-based stew recipe that makes a ton, is really delicious, and that you could practically make blindfolded, look no further.

One time I was watching The Next Foodnetwork Star, I believe, and one of the contestants said the way she remembered how to make ratatouille is “EZ POT.” Eggplants, zucchini, peppers, onions and tomatoes. That’s apparently the order you add the vegetables, but it’s also great to remember what goes in it. That always has stuck with me. This is definitely an “easy pot” of lunch or dinner. Or both.

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Slow Cooker Ratatouille

  • 3 cups diced eggplant
  • 2 cups sliced zucchini (you can sub yellow squash–I did)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large sweet peppers, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 large tomatoes
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 cup dry red wine

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the eggplant and zucchini in a baking dish. Pour about 4 tablespoons of olive oil over them, season with salt and pepper and the oregano. Stir well. Bake about 30 minutes until soft, stirring once in the middle of the baking. Once softened, add the eggplant and zucchini to your slow cooker. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Core the tomatoes and cut an X in the bottom of each. In batches, drop them into the boiling water and leave for 30 seconds or a minute–until you see the skins crack along the cuts. Remove and put into the ice bath for a few minutes. The skins should slip right off. Add the skinned tomatoes whole to the slow cooker. Add everything else to the slow cooker and stir well. Cook on low for 8 hours. You may need to break up the tomatoes with a spoon once the cooking is done, but they will probably just fall right apart. Makes 6 large servings (or 8 probably normal servings). Serve with warm crusty bread and a little shredded parmesan cheese over the top.

The first time I ever made ratatouille (or even heard of it, really) was when I moved into my first apartment after I finished school. I subscribed to Martha Stewart Living, and a recipe for it was in the first issue I received. The vegetable-appreciator that I am exclaimed “where has this been all my life?!?” Since then, I make it about once or twice a year when I end up with a pile of vegetables I need to get out of the fridge. This time, it was eggplant that had some bad spots in it. I just cut around it, and you’d never know. I’ve been enjoying this for lunch all week. What a great way to end summer!

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