Alicia cooking in Hawaii

Ratatouille (pronounced Ra-ta-too-ee)

My mom used to make this luscious eggplant stew to accompany barbequed marinated lamb. Lamb is not necessary for the enjoyment of this dish, which can be transformed from a side dish to a one-dish meal with the addition of tofu or cubes of freerange chicken or turkey breast. I’ll explain how to add options in the recipe.

One large eggplant cut into one inch cubes (remove stem connection and dimple at bottom of eggplant)

Two large yellow onions, peeled and chopped coarsely

Ten cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely

Two medium sized zucchini, ends cut off and sliced in 1/4 inch slices

One can of tomato paste (6 ounces)

One can of stewed tomatoes (8 ounces)

One large green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into one inch pieces

Optional: one block of extra firm tofu, OR one raw (thawed) turkey half breast OR two or three raw (thawed) chicken half-breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Sesame oil for frying and olive oil for seasoning after it’s cooked

Bragg’s liquid aminos for salty seasoning

A handful of fresh basil leaves, rosemary needles and oregano leaves, if you can get them, or two tablespoons of finely minced dried herbs if you can’t.

Mix together the stewed tomatoes and the tomato paste and set aside. Be sure to include all of the water in the can with the stewed tomatos.

In a large non-aluminum wok, heat 3 tablespoons of oil and add the garlic. Stir it around until the garlic is golden brown. Add the onions, and stir fry them until they are translucent. Add the dried herbs next if you are using them. (If you are using fresh herbs, add them with the vegetables.) If you will be adding chicken or turkey, add them now, and cook until not pink inside a cube you break open to test. Keep the fire moderate so that nothing burns. Next add the eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, optional tofu and optional fresh herbs. Stir around until all of these are evenly coated with oil. Pour in the tomato mixture, stir to distribute evenly throughout the stew, put the lid on the wok, and let the whole thing simmer until the vegetables are tender. Season to taste with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and olive oil. Serve immediately, or cool the mixture to wrist temperature, and store, refrigerated, in an airtight glass container (tomato stains plastic and reacts with aluminum). The taste improves overnight, so it’s a dish you can prepare for a party the day before.