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Kitchen Witch

Autumn Ratatouille

by Lily

The Autumn harvest brings to us great volumes of Gaia's bounty. Farmer's markets, grocery stores, and our backyard gardens have virtually exploded in a colorful cornucopia of fruits and vegetables. Where I live in the Bay Area, our hot summer days have given us peppers of every color, tomatoes by the armload, and more squash than one could ever eat. Everything seems to ripen all at once. Such abundance calls us to the kitchen to make delicious and nourishing kitchen magic (and to use up some of that squash!) One of my favorite ways to combine Fall veggies is in a big batch of ratatouille.

Ratatouille is a Mediterranean dish that traditionally includes tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, and onions. I will readily confess to adding a myriad of other vegetables if something else is ripe in my backyard, or a particular veggie caught my eye at the market. Shallots, hot peppers, yellow squash, green beans, and winter squash have all found their way into my ratatouille pot at one time or another. I try to pick a rainbow of colors in the vegetables that I use — it's even more beautiful and healthy that way.

Ratatouille is definitely not a recipe to be followed exactly. I add more spices and garlic depending on my mood and the music I'm listening to when I'm cooking. My current choice for this Autumn's chopping and stirring is the soundtrack to the Hindi movie Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai, although any music that you can shake your booty to will work beautifully.


2/3 cup of vegetable broth
4 or 5 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2-3 Japanese eggplants,
or 1 large eggplant (3 cups chopped)
1 cup green beans
1-1/2 medium-sized onions
(about 2 cups chopped)
1-1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 tsp dried basil or 2 Tbsp fresh basil
1-1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried rosemary or 2 tsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme or 2 tsp fresh thyme
1 medium zucchini (3 cups chopped)
2 bell peppers (1-1/2 cups cored and chopped)
4-6 tomatoes (3-1/2 cups diced)
1/2 tsp black pepper (or more, depending on taste)

  1. Put on some cooking music.
  2. Prepare by chopping up all the vegetables and mincing the garlic and the herbs. Since the veggies cook up quickly, it's helpful to pre-chop everything so you aren't rushed. Put them in separate bowls or piles for now.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Pour about 2 Tbsp of vegetable broth in the pan and sauté the garlic, onion, and bay leaf until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the eggplant, beans, salt, herbs, and about 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth. Stir and cover the pan, letting it cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the eggplant and beans are soft. Check often to make sure there's still broth in the pan, and add more if necessary so the ratatouille won't burn.
  5. Add the zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and black pepper. Stir and cover, cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat until the zucchini and peppers are just getting tender. As you inhale the aroma of Gaia's gifts, it's time to chant a spell:

    From Midsummer to Autumn
    The Wheel spins round,
    Cauldron of nourishment,
    Earth's gifts abound.
    Gratitude to Gaia
    For all I behold,
    Nourished in delight
    We are blessed tenfold.
    Blessed be.

Ratatouille can be served by itself, or over rice or pasta. One of my favorite ways to enjoy it is over a creamy scoop of polenta. It's good either hot or at room temperature. Pair it with a nice glass of lemonade and enjoy! May you never hunger.

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