I call this Eggplant Ratatouille, but I could have called it Eggplant Stew. Or Cacciatore. Or Gazpacho. Or Goulash, or Pottage, or a dozen other things. Only the country, seasoning, temperature and language differ. Insignificant things, really.
The point is, vegetables in season, mixed, heated, seasoned, served and eaten.
No oil. No meat. No salt.
Variety. Availability. Cost. Freshness. Eaten with my true love, my family.
These are the things that really matter.
So here's my favorite ingredients: Eggplant, zucchini, sweet peppers, onions, garbanzos, tomatoes, mushrooms, Italian spices (oregano 1 1/2 t, marjoram 1 t, thyme 1 t, garlic 1 t, basil 1/2t, rosemary 1/2 t, sage 1/2 t, red pepper 1/4 t). Slice/dice, cook until done, add spices any time. Arrange attractively in a baking pan for maximum effect, or put them all together to save time as above. Add more stuff if you've got more stuff. Start with 1/2 seasonings amount if you want to be cautious, it's easier to add seasonings later than double the recipe because it's too strong. Add a little meat (-balls, chicken) for a less healthy dish.
To think that a set recipe matters is to lose some of the intent and possibilities. Not that I'm opposed to recipes. But sometimes it's just right to go with what you've got.
This time it was just eggplant, onions, tomatoes, tomato sauce, mushrooms and seasonings. We just chopped them, put them in the pan, heated them up, added a little seasoning. We ate it hot, we ate it cold, we loved it. Even made more the very next night. We had more eggplant, after all.
Here's another principle. We often engage in "recipe roulette," where we take a CD titled 1 Million Recipes, put in a list of ingredients we've got on hand, and see what the possibilities are. Or we play "recipe roulette" by Google search.
Here are some other principles.
- More important than a recipe is to be flexible.
- We almost never make it exactly as it says.
- We never fry or sauté in oil.
- We cook fresh veggies by "flash steaming" (use your imagination)
- We cook things less and at lower temperatures than we did.
- We don't add salt in cooking. If one of us wants salt, we add it after, and in small quantities.
- We never serve food with or over rice, or potatoes, or starchy foods in general.
- We eat generous portions, but don't stuff ourselves.
- We enjoy talking together as we eat.
- We congratulate good eating decisions.
- We don't criticize or even acknowledge each other's bad eating decisions, only our own.