I figured that it was about time for me to come clean with you guys.
I am not a clean cook. In fact, I am a downright messy cook.
I can dice an onion with enthusiastic speed.
I can eyeball out an accurate tablespoon of olive oil.
I can handle three or four pots at once.
Hm. I could probably even chop an eggplant with my hands tied behind my back. Maybe.
But please don’t ever ask me to keep my kitchen clean. It just isn’t going to happen.
In my kitchen, carrot peels cling to the wall before plummeting to the earth.
Pepper seeds sprinkle themselves across the butcher block.
And sometimes, onions fly.
Now, before you start envisioning a dreadfully messy kitchen, I should point out that it’s not like my kitchen is always messy. After dinner, it becomes rather spotless. You’d barely believe that there was ever a moment of chaos, just 15 minutes previous.
Even still, I did seriously consider making “maintain a clean kitchen environment while cooking” as my New Years Resolution. I envisioned myself twirling around a completely spotless kitchen, making both mom and martha proud.
Not a speck of tomato sauce on anything (or anyone, for that matter.)
But then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this wasn’t such a good idea.
I kind of like being a messy cook. It’s my time to just let loose. To peel a carrot with reckless abandon. To chop an onion like its my duty. To let the pans sizzle and fry.
Really, now, you’ve got to admit. Sometimes it feels good to get a little messy. Sometimes it feels good to just let things fly.
Ratatouille—recipe taken from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart
I’ve always thought of “Ratatouille” as being a difficult (and maybe a little prestigious) recipe. And yet, after finally overcoming my fears and just making it already, I can honestly say that there is nothing to be afraid of.
Ratatouille is, very simply, a vegetable stew that is most commonly made with a mixture of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion and seasonings. It comes together relatively quickly and aside from some vegetable dicing, most of the work is hands off.
This recipe is delicious when served as is, with a hunk of crusty bread. Or served over brown rice. Or whole wheat pasta. It would even make a lovely filling to your soft wrap at lunch, when topped with a sprinkle of goat cheese. This recipe makes a lot, so you will have plenty of chances and opportunities.
- 1 can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
- 4 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
- coarse salt and pepper
- 2 large yellow onions, diced large
- 1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
- 2 bell peppers, seeded and diced large
- 2 large zucchini (1 lb total), diced large
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 T. fresh oregano
- 2-3 T. red wine vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350. Place tomatoes and juices on a rimmed baking sheet and use your hands to break tomatoes into 3/4 inch pieces. Drizzle with 2 T. olive oil and bake until thickened, 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a colander, toss eggplant with 1/2 tsp salt. Let sit 20 minutes, then squeeze out any excess liquid with a paper towel. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until onions and garlic are soft, 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bay leaf, and oregano to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook at a gentle simmer until vegetables are tender but not mushy, 15 minutes. Season to taste with vinegar, salt and pepper.
Question: Are you the cleanest of cooks or do you typically make a mess?