This is one of our standbys, especially when vegetables are abundant in the summer months. It freezes quite nicely as well. It’s infinitely adaptable. Many summer vegetables could be used in it (or even left out according to preference)–it’s great for the bumper crops that seem to happen in CSA boxes and gardens.
Crockpot Ratatouille (makes between 5-6 quarts, enough for several meals)
Layer in a six quart crockpot:
1 large eggplant (quarted and thinly sliced)
2 small zucchini (thinly slices)
2 yellow squash (cubed)
3 celery stalks (diced thickly)
2-3 bell pepper (diced thickly)
8 oz. mushrooms (whole if small, quartered or halved if larger)
2-3 teaspoons Penzey’s Herbs de Provence (can substitute Parisian Bonnes Herbes)
2-3 teaspoons capers
2 14-oz. can diced tomatoes (fire roasted is the best)
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce (can even use spaghetti sauce)
Cook for 4-6 hours on low, until vegetables are tender.
Towards the end of cooking time, sauté 1-2 diced onions and 4-6 minced cloves of garlic in 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet until transparent and tender. Stir it gently into the slow cooker, and cook for the final 30 minutes to an hour to blend flavors (Note: can add onion and garlic at the beginning of the stew instead. For me, this just adds a special freshness)
Ideas on how to serve it:
1) As a stew, with grilled cheese sandwiches. Can add broth or tomato juice to thin it out
2) Over prepared couscous or rice. For feta and herb couscous: boil 3 c. water, add 2 cups couscous and herbs to taste (try 1-2 tsp. of Parisian Bonnes Herbes and 1 tsp. salt, or for a Middle-Eastern twist, use 2 tsp. Turkish Seasoning). Turn off heat, and cover for ten minutes. Add ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese, and stir and fluff couscous.
3) Over ravioli (cheese ravioli is especially nice with this). Try 2-3 cups per pound of ravioli. Top with freshly grated parmesan
4) As a bruschetta topping on toasted bread
5) Serve it cold as a dip for vegetables
6) Cook and drain one lb. of Italian sausage (loose or links), add 3 cups ratatouille to pan and warm. Serve over 12 oz. cooked spaghetti or other pasta shape.