A simple, very low sodium vegetarian meal that can be served alongside crusty bread, or tossed with pasta. Don't be deterred by the long ingredient list! The recipe is very forgiving and substitutions are easy. You can make this the longer way by cooking the vegetables separately, in stages, to have varying textures OR just throw everything in a pot, simmer and enjoy. Plus, this makes about 10 cups and will taste even better the day after.
Servings: Makes about 10 cups
Sodium: 17 mg per cup
Time: 1 hour
Step 1 ingredients:
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried ground mustard
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, diced in 1/4 inch pieces
1 stalk celery, diced in 1/4 inch pieces
1 medium bell pepper, diced in 1/4 inch pieces
Step 2 ingredients:
2 pounds roma tomatoes, chopped (about 6-7 tomatoes, OR use two 14-ounce cans of unsalted diced tomatoes)
1 tsp sugar OR 1 medium apple, diced small
Step 3 ingredients:
1/2 large onion, diced in 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 large eggplant (or one Japanese eggplant) diced in 1/2 inch pieces
2 medium zucchinis, diced in 1/2 inch pieces
about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
Step 4 ingredients:
3 tablespoons salt free tomato paste
Step 5 ingredients:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons caramelized shallots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
pinch of bonito flakes (optional)
1) Here's the quick and easy way to make this dish: combine all the ingredients from steps 1-4 in a large pot (at least 4 quarts), bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer over very low heat for about 45 minutes to an hour. Then jump to step 6, below.
If you have a little more time, try making this in stages starting with the next step. This method gives you a variety of textures with the vegetables, something I really appreciate when we're not cooking with salt.
2) Combine all the ingredients listed under Step 1 in a large pot and cook over low-medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 7-10 minutes . I use a 6 quart Dutch oven. Here's my pot with all the ingredients from Step 1, and then after about 7 minutes of cooking.
3) Add tomatoes and apples or sugar, combine and simmer over low heat for about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the tomatoes go in, you basically have a bunch of chopped vegetables, but after about 30-45 minutes you'll have a thick and rich stew. Resist the urge to add water if you're using fresh tomatoes, just simmer on low and stir occasionally. Here's the before and after.
4) While the tomatoes are stewing, sauté the eggplant, zucchinis, and second half of the onion in a skillet over high heat. I like to sauté each vegetable separately with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil each. To sauté, add oil to your skillet and wait until it gets hot. Add the vegetables and cook for about 2-3 minutes. You want these vegetables to just cook on the outside, but still be a little firm.
5) Once the tomatoes have finished stewing, add the sautéed vegetables from step 3 to the stew, along with 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Stir and cook over medium
heat, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the cover, lower the heat to a simmer and cook an additional 5 minutes.
6) Let the stew cool for about 10 minutes, then stir in the ingredients from step 5. I like to serve this with crusty bread, or tossed with a thick pasta like fettuccini. For a creamier stew, try adding a little bit of heavy cream or stirring in some low sodium ricotta cheese!
-This dish tastes best when tomatoes and zucchini are in season, but you can easily use two 14 ounce cans of salt free diced tomatoes. I've made this with mushrooms in place of the eggplant and that works, too. Add cayenne pepper, or 2-3 diced jalapeños with the step 1 ingredients for a spicier stew.
-If you're using fresh herbs, add them with the tomatoes in step 2.
-There's a lot of chopping involved in this recipe. A food processor can speed up the process but I would only use it for the vegetables in step 1 and the tomatoes. Cut the zucchini, eggplant, and onion in step 3 by hand because those vegetables are going to be a bit more firm and you'll lose a little bit of that texture by chopping in a food processor. I also think they look better hand cut.
-I use Bionaturae no salt added tomato paste because I love the flavor and it also comes in a glass jar with a lid, but most tomato paste comes in 6-7 ounce cans. What should you do with all that extra tomato paste after you've added 1 tablespoon to the ratatouille? Freeze it. Scoop out a tablespoon full of tomato paste and put it on a piece of wax paper on a plate in the freezer. When the scoops of tomato paste are solid enough to handle (about 2-3 hours), peel them off the wax paper and store in a ziplock bag or freezer safe container for later use.
-I only started adding chopped apples to this stew after I saw another vegetable stew recipe by Salt the Plate that uses an apple for sweetness! Her recipe can be found here.