We have a half-acre lot which when we moved here in 2006, was totally devoid of any vegetation in the back yard except for a combo of hydro seed, straw and weeds. Lot size is 200 feet by 100 feet. We fenced in the back yard the first Spring we were in the house. I really wanted a vegetable garden, which I crazily made 100 feet long by 4 feet wide. When I was a kid, my Dad had a vegetable garden which my sister and I were told to weed as an ongoing project throughout the summers. That garden was about 20 feet long by 4 feet wide. So we would bribe our friends Steve and Paul to help with the weeding. The bribe was that our Dad would take us all to a local convenience store for frozen fruity beverages after we were finished. I hated weeding then! I still hate weeding! By the time I finished weeding the 100 foot garden, it was time to start over again. So what was I thinking when I created this huge garden? I ended up planting about 25 different vegetable and fruit bearing plants. I was amazed by the bounty, however in subsequent years, I struggled on a mini scale with the same plight that the local farmers were dealing with – drought; disease; flooding; hail; bugs; and finally a Nor’easter came and knocked down my corn field breaking the stalks 6 inches from the ground. The garden currently, consists of blackberries, mint, strawberries, chives, wisteria, black-eyed Susans and lilies. Someday, those plants will take over the yard, and the neighborhood. The end result, is that I just buy most of my vegetables and fruit from a local farmer’s market. In the long run it is cheaper and less stressful, plus it benefits the local farmers.
- 1 sweet onions (large)
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste; if using canned tomatoes, I omit the salt)
- 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 28 ounces Italian crushed tomatoes (I use canned)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon oregano (dried)
- 1 tablespoon thyme (dried)
- 1 tablespoon basil (dried)
- 1/4 cup sherry (sweet)
- 3 cups zucchini (sliced)
- 1 cup yellow squash (sliced)
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (crumbled; table-side)
- Peel and core onion, and slice or dice.
- Clean, core, dice peppers.
- Microwave onions for two minutes in a microwave safe container.
- Stir the onions and microwave them for an additional minute.
- Use a heavy 3-4 quart pot, add olive oil on medium heat.
- Place onions in pot, stirring it so they don’t burn.
- Microwave peppers for two minutes, then add them to pot.
- Cook the onions and peppers for 5 minutes stirring to keep from burning.
- Add garlic and cook for another minute (do not allow it to burn).
- Add Worcestershire sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, sherry and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add zucchini and yellow squash and cook for 10 minutes on low with the lid on.
- Stir items in pot, and cook for another 10 minutes on low with the lid on.
- Continue this regime 4 more times (total of 60 minutes) or until zucchini and squash are tender. Be sure to stir every 10 minutes so sauce on bottom of pot does not burn.
- Place cheese on table, to be sprinkled or spooned on top of ratatouille.
- I serve this ratatouille as a side alone, on top of couscous, angel hair, rice, quinoa, or mac & cheese.
- (The leftovers are even better the next day.)
Preparation Time: 20 minutes / Cooking Time: 70 minutes. Servings: 8