Oh and can I say that I think that Basil is just really essential in a garden? If you don't plant any other herb, plant basil. I use mine more than I use any other herbs I've planted. And it's easy to grow. Plus it's really expensive if you have to buy it in the store. I think this year I'm going to transfer mine to a pot I can keep in the house 'cause I like it so much...
One final suggestion: you can use the movie as a way to get your kids to try it. It might not look like much, BUT if you can get them to try it, they will probably like it. I also served this with my homemade breadsticks. It was a good night! :)
Simmering Summer Ratatouille
2 TBLS olive oil (I think I used a lot more than this...ha ha!)
2 eggplants, cubed (I peeled mine because I was concerned about the texture of the skin being problematic in this dish...)
2 zucchini, cubed
2 bell peppers, chopped (I used green, but other colors would be yummy too, I'm sure!)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (I always use a garlic press instead)
5 - 8 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (peeling and seeding optional...)
3 - 5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 TBLS fresh thyme, chopped (I substituted dried)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Note on eggplant: I always try to work very quickly with this. It browns quickly once peeled and cut open. If you really want to you can put it in water or cover with Fresh Fruit or lemon juice. But in a dish like this it doesn't really matter anyway. So I just work fast. So as you cut your eggplant place it in a colander and sprinkle with sea salt. Let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant if desired. Pat it dry. (I actually forgot to rinse the salt off...oops! Tasted great to me, but if your really conscious about your sodium intake you probably should rinse it...)
2. (Skip to next step of you don't care about the tomato skins.) If you want to peel your tomatoes: Fill a large bowl about 1/2 way with water and ice. Boil a large pot of water. Cut small x's in the bottom of the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for about a minute. Immediately place the tomatoes in an ice bath for another minute. Remove the tomatoes and place in a colander in the sink until they are cool enough to handle. Peel the tomatoes. If you want to seed them also just cut the tops off and squeeze as many seeds out as you can. (NOTE: I peeled 6 of my tomatoes. Then I decided I wanted more in the stew, but didn't want to go through all that again...SO I just chopped them up and put them seeds, skin and all. Couldn't tell a difference...next time I will probably just leave them as nature intended in the first place)
3. Heat olive oil in a large pot. NOTE: While adding veggies, make sure you stir them around frequently to promote even cooking. Add the eggplant and let it cook for about 5-10 minutes. Add the zucchini, cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add the bell peppers, cook for 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid reduces. You can create a thicker sauce by adding tomato paste if desired.
5. Remove from the heat and stir in salt, pepper, basil and thyme. Adjust seasoning as needed to taste and serve.
Just to warn you, it really does kind of look like a pile of mush. The eggplant gets really soft and isn't a super appetizing color when it cooks. But it is really good. Really. Try it. :)