Inspired by the Fall Garden: Ratatouille

Ratatouille is the perfect dish to serve eggplant from the fall garden. (Photo by Shutterstock)

Eggplants thrive in the heat of Iowa’s summers and are an incredibly versatile treat from summer to fall. They can be grilled like Portobello mushrooms for a meaty vegan main course, or sauteed alone or with other veggies and tofu in sweet coconut aminos and served over rice for a light yet satisfying and delicious meal. When simmered on low, they delicately dissolve into a smooth, sumptuous stew. This version of ratatouille leans saucy, bringing out that delectable melting quality. It’s perfect for freezing or canning to savor summer flavors well into the winter.

Variation: For a less soupy interpretation, simply use 1 cup less tomato, 1 cup less onion, ¼ cup oil, and add 1 cup more summer squash. You can also wait to add the tomatoes until the end.

To maximize sauciness, use a deep pot. To minimize sauciness, use a large shallow pan or wok to accelerate evaporation. (Also, when cooking a tomato-rich dish, best to avoid using cast iron.)

½ cup olive oil

3 cups tomatoes, sliced or quartered & halved

4 cups thinly sliced eggplant

2 cups onion, chopped

3 cups thinly sliced summer squash (zucchini, yellow crookneck, etc.)

2 Tbsp. dried rosemary

½ Tbsp. dried oregano

½ cup fresh basil

1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic (optional)

  1. In a large pot, add olive oil, onion, garlic, rosemary, and oregano. Saute until onions start turning translucent and begin to sizzle.
  2. For maximum sauciness, add tomatoes next. (For a less saucy version, add summer squash and eggplant & saute.)
  3. Once tomatoes begin to disintegrate, stir in eggplant & squash. Allow to simmer until eggplant dissolves. (For a less saucy version, once squash & eggplant have cooked through, add tomatoes and herbs, and turn up heat, stirring quickly.)
  4. Serve & enjoy!

Dominica Borg currently works and learns at Pickle Creek Herbs. Her interest in agroecology has taken many forms, including planting a small perennial food forest, organizing workshops for adults, and teaching gardening and cooking classes to young people.