Ratatouille Leftovers

You guys know I can’t pass up an opportunity to use up leftovers in a new dish. It’s part of the fun in making food in the first place. So when I had a big pot of delicious ratatouille left after dinner, I put on my superhero cape and got to work.

I use no-boil or “oven ready” lasagna noodles when I can find them. Two reasons: time-saving and I don’t boil the skin of my hands off by handling hot slippery noodles. When possible, I assemble my lasagna the moment I know I’ll have leftovers. Having a large lasagna pan with a lid makes that super-easy. Just slap it together and refrigerate or freeze it until you’re ready for it to bake.

I do keep some jars of pasta sauce on hand, although it’s super-easy to make your own from fresh tomatoes or cans of tomatoes or tomato sauce. What I use depends on the time I have and what flavors I want in my lasagna. As a fair warning, I LOVE garlic. So a classic Napoletana made with roasted garlic is usually my go-to kind of sauce (Yes, I know Barilla isn’t exactly high-end).

Ratatouille Lasagna

  • 1 pkg oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 1-2 C ratatouille
  • 1 recipe tofu ricotta
  • 1 (14-16 oz) jar pasta sauce (or 2 C of your own devising)
  • 2 C kale or spinach, washed, dried, sautéed
  • Daiya mozzarella shreds

In the bottom of a 9×13 casserole or lasagna pan, spread about 1/4C of pasta sauce. Cover with a layer of noodles. Top with the kale and half the ricotta and a sprinkle of Daiya. Add a layer of noodles and coat with sauce. Spread with ratatouille and top with Daiya and some sauce. Layer with noodles. Spread with the rest of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with Daiya. Top with noodles. Use remaining sauce to completely cover the noodles. Sprinkle  with more Daiya. Cover pan with foil.

You can refrigerate this up to two days, freeze for (probably no longer than) a month, or bake it immediately for an hour in a 350F oven. Remove foil during last 10 minutes of baking.

lasagna_side

Ratatouille

Skinner: You know something about rats, you know you do!
Linguini: You know who know, do, whacka-do. Ratta-tatta – Hey, why do they call it that?
Skinner: What?
Linguini: Ratatouille. It’s like a stew, right? Why do they call it that? If you’re gonna name a food, you should give it a name that sounds delicious. Ratatouille doesn’t sound delicious. It sounds like “rat” and “patootie.” Rat patootie! Which does not sound delicious.
from Disney/Pixar’s “Ratatouille“. quote via IMDB

Weirdly enough, my own “Little Chef” doesn’t like this movie as much as I do. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t feature enough animals, or maybe because he’d rather actually be in the kitchen helping me rather than watching people cook on TV. Who knows. The kid is crazy.

But lookit this.

remys-ratatouille

If you’ve ever had ratatouille, you know it would take more than just that tiny little stack of perfectly-mandolined veggies to make a meal. It’s a stew. A bit heaping bowl or plate of delicious, warming, comforting stew. Like this:

ratatouille

Ratatouille

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium red or orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 eggplant, stemmed and diced
  • 2 small zucchini, diced
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T vegetable broth or water
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • herbs of choice

In a large saucepan or a pot, saute onion over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring and scraping the pan as needed. Add bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, and broth or water. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, then season with salt and pepper.

I used 1 tsp of dried basil in this, but an Italian blend or Herbes de Provence also does well.

Of course, there are other variations to this dish. Often, the eggplant and zucchini will be sautéed separately, then a sauce is made with the onions, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes. The eggplant and zucchini might be layered in a casserole dish or a dutch oven, then covered in the sauce and baked or simmered on the stove. Whatever method you prefer, it will turn out delicious!

Leftovers? Well, you know we’ll make good use of those. Tune in next time (and sorry for the wait)!

In the meantime, enjoy this article I read recently from our local “alternative” newspaper: “Methinks I Don’t Protest Enough or Mama, I’m Running Away to Join the Circus Protest.”

My Fall CSA Failure

I love CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). They’re honestly completely totally absolutely awesome. As long as you have two or more really good eaters and lots of creativity and/or freezer space. Let me explain.

The CSA available through the farm market closest to us is a little unusual. This could be because the market itself is a little unusual. Unlike other markets I have been to, ours is in part of a large building and has produce set up in much the same way as a supermarket does. There is a small area with bulk bins of various dry beans and grains, a refrigerated case with cheese, eggs, and tofu. A seafood vendor, salsa vendor, a small cookie shop. Another case of milk, ice cream, and various meaty items. Peanuts. Holistic pet food. Other than the few vendor stalls, the cookie shop, and the little cafe, the only other choice you have for interaction is with the cashiers.

I miss going to each “booth” to talk to the farmers, but I also get why they’d just drop off their harvest to be sold here — it lets them go to other markets or spend that valuable time with families or working.

Anyways. I feel like I rambled and got off track there. So, this market is a non-profit organization, open Thursday through Sunday, selling “local” products. I’m not going to get into defining what “local” means in this case, because I have no idea. I may or may not have had an extremely polite “exchange” on Facebook with their seafood vendor (pre-veg days) about using the slogan “Always Fresh, Always Local” while selling salmon from Alaska. Sorry, guys — this is the East Coast.

There are several types of CSAs out there — subscriptions varying in price based on season, number of people you’re feeding, if you’re wanting organic produce, delivered to your doorstep, etc. Some CSAs package your share so it’s all ready for you to pick up. Ours works a little differently.

We pay our subscription fee based on the season (it’s $190-$250, depending) and go to the market once a week for twelve weeks to pick up the items in our CSA share. It’s a bring-your-own-bag affair, and we choose our own items from the bins. There’s generally a placard there saying “Take 6 apples”, or “Choose 2 eggplant” etc. Smaller items like berries or mushrooms are packaged by weight and you simply pick a container. So it’s really fun in that way. You can choose smaller or larger melons/squash/whatever to suit your needs. If you’re an idiot like me, you pick some of the biggest ones and never manage to keep up.

Some weeks were pretty manageable.

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Others… not so much.

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At the time, I was still eating omnivorously, though trying to stay on top of the CSA share by myself essentially force-converted me to vegetarianism. Not necessarily a bad thing at all. Except I had never really learned to cook with such a variety of produce. It was certainly an education. I was giving away at least half of my share every week and still had roasted squash stuffed in every cranny of my freezer. My produce bins were overflowing with apples.

I had to come up with a solution. One was to start canning. The other was this delicious soup. Even with those stopgap measures, I still managed to fail miserably at keeping up. Learn from my mistakes, but definitely try the soup (I apologize for the lack of photo — this soup isn’t very photogenic, but I’ll try again sometime).

Squash-Apple Soup

  • 1T non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 1T EV olive oil
  • 2C chopped yellow onion (1 medium)
  • 1T curry powder
  • 1 1/2 lb roasted butternut squash (1 medium)
  • 2 sweet apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (Gala)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 C veggie or mock-chicken stock
  • 1/2 C good apple cider or juice (Simply Apple)


  • Melt margarine in large pot. Add olive oil, onions, and curry. Cook uncovered on low heat 15-20 minutes until onions are tender. Stir occasionally, scraping bottom of pot.

    Add squash, apples, salt, pepper, and stock. Bring to boil. Cover. Cook on low 20 minutes, until apples begin to break down. Purée by allowing soup to cool and transferring to a blender or by using an immersion blender.

    With soup back in pot, add apple juice to desired consistency. It should be slightly sweet and quite thick. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve hot.

    To roast squash: cut in half, scoop out seeds. Place cut-side-down in 9″x13″ dish in 1/2″ of water. Bake at 350F for 40min. Flesh should scoop away easily from the skin.