Meatless Monday: Ratatouille and Parmesan Brown Rice
After resolving to eat more vegetables, I decided to incorporate more veggies into my cooking tonight. Growing up, my mom made ratatouille whenever she had a variety of vegetables on hand. Ratatouille is one of those dishes you can just throw together with the ingredients you have in your fridge and it is always guaranteed to be delicious. For this recipe, I decided to add some crunchy Parmesan crusted eggplant bites to add some texture to the dish.
Ingredients for Parmesan Rice:
1 cup of brown rice
1 3/4 cup water
1/2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients for Eggplant Ratatouille:
1-2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 medium sized eggplant
1 medium sized bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange)
1 can of crushed organic fire roasted tomatoes
1/4 tsp each of dried pepper, thyme, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper
A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese
Ingredients for the Baked Eggplant Bites:
1/2 to 3/4 cups of eggplant
1 egg lightly beaten
3/4 cups of bread crumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese
How to create the dish:
Follow the directions for cooking your choice of brown rice. I put the butter, water, and rice in a pot on the stove (set at medium heat). After the water began to boil, I turned the heat down to medium low and let it simmer for about 35 minutes. When it was nearly done I added the spices. When all of the water was absorbed by the rice, I took it off the stove and let it sit for about ten minutes. During that time, I added the extra virgin olive oil and thickly grated cheese.
After starting to cook the hardy brown rice, you will want to start prepping the vegetables in the ratatouille. First, I finely chopped three cloves of garlic. Then I chopped up the eggplant and bright orange bell pepper. I poured the olive oil to a skillet over medium heat and when it was hot I added the garlic in. After about two minutes, I added the eggplant to the frying pan. I made sure to cover the frying pan to keep the moisture in. I also added in a couple of tablespoons of water into the pan to keep the absorbent eggplant moist. When the eggplant seemed softer, but still slightly tough to the touch, I mixed in the peppers, fire roasted tomatoes, and the spices. Turn off the heat when the peppers are heated, but still crisp. Sprinkle with some cheese and stir before serving.
The last step to making this recipe is making the crispy eggplant bites. They are very simple and absolutely mouth watering. I took some of the unused diced eggplant from the dish and coated them in the lightly beaten egg. After removing them from the egg mixture, I then covered the pieces with Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs. I heated the oven to 400 degrees and put the bites on a pan drizzled with a small amount of olive oil (to avoid them sticking to the pan). Finally, I flipped the bites after about 10 minutes and added Parmesan cheese. I left them in the oven for another few minutes and then assembled the tomato based dish. By the time the bites were in the oven and the fire roasted tomatoes were added to the frying pan, the kitchen smelled divine. Even my meat-loving boyfriend raved about the hearty meal. Whether you are a vegetarian or if you’re just looking to make a meal on a budget, ratatouille is a tasty healthy choice packed with vitamin rich vegetables. So far week one is a success. I’ve managed to eat four kinds of colorful vegetables today.