Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Passing on Family Favorites - Our Ratatouille Recipe

This shop with Heinz Classico #FamilyFavorites has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Here on the farm we have vegetables coming out our ears. We don't have cows or pigs, but what we do grow are squash, melon, tomatoes, eggplant and a whole assortment of other delicious Summer vegetables. That means our family favorites this time of year are packed with fresh ingredients and come from simple, but well loved recipes.

One of my Summer favorites is Ratatouille.

I first started making this when my son was little. At that point he didn't really join our family dinners and preferred his toddler basics of nuggets and macaroni and cheese. I also had a lot more time on my hands before the other kids came along and I used to spend all day working on my sauce to go with the meal.

I realized last week my children had never tried my ratatouille recipe. We have watched and loved the animated movie with the same name, and which featured the dish, but my kids have never tasted it for themselves.

As a parent, there is a magical moment when your kids start eating and trying real food. You know, beyond the pasta and finger foods dipped in ketchup? Well, I am there, finally, and ratatouille made the top of my list to offer my brave eaters. My son, almost 7, and my daughter, almost 5, are actually enjoying real ingredients and real flavors in their foods. So I took my daughter to help me shop for the perfect sauce to pair with our fresh ingredients. 

We grabbed a jar of Heinz Classico Family Favorites in Traditional at Walmart. It would compliment are farm fresh vegetables nicely.

Save money with this Heinz Classico coupon when you buy two jars of Classico Family Favorites!

We found everything we needed out in the fields. Sadly, my garden didn't have enough fresh thyme, so I bought a bundle while we were at the store, too.

I did the prep work ahead of time, slicing the vegetable thin and even with my mandoline, saving the actually creation of the ratatouille for my kids.

First goes in enough sauce to coat the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish. I ended up using more than half the jar. On top we sprinkled diced onions and grated our garlic cloves.

Then my kitchen helpers started with one vegetable and created a row of overlapping slices. My daughter starts Kindergarten next month so we talked about "pattern power" and what veggies would be coming next in the pattern we created.

That really is the best part about cooking with my children. I don't feel like I am just passing down a family recipe, I am using the kitchen as my classroom for life in general.

With very little help from me, we were able to create this gorgeous dish! Each row was pushed back and the vegetables were packed in tightly. Then we seasoned the top, sprinkled on a generous helping of fresh thyme leaves and drizzled the top with olive oil. A trimmed sheet of parchment goes on top and every bakes till bubbly and soft.

I served it over couscous for my husband and I. The kids enjoyed theirs over a big bowl of spiral pasta. Okay, they haven't moved out of the pasta phase all the way, but at least they enjoyed their ratatouille. This is one family favorite I don't mind handing over to my kids. They did a delicious job of making dinner themselves.

Garden Fresh Ratatouille
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You Will Need:

  • 1 jar Heinz Classico Family Favorites in Traditional
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated or pressed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced thin and then halved
  • 1 large green zuchinni, sliced thin
  • 1 large yellow squash, sliced thin
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced thin and then halved
  • 2 tomatoes sliced very thin, then halved
  • fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil to drizzle over the top
First dry out the tomato slices slightly. Slice thin and then set on parchment covered baking sheets. Dry slightly at 275 for 10 to 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cover the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish with 1/2" or more of sauce. Sprinkle the top with onions and garlic. Begin adding one vegetable at a time to the baking dish. Add a single layer of slices and overlap the edges. Alternate vegetable colors to create a pattern. Push the rows up and back to pack in more vegetables. When the baking dish is full, sprinkle generously with fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper and drizzle the top with olive oil.

Cut a peice of parchment to fit into the top of the dish, then bake for 40-50 minutes. The vegetables should be softened and the sauce should be bubbly.

Serve over couscous, pasta or rice.


What family recipes would you used Heinz Classico Family Favorites in?

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