Winter Ratatouille

One of my favorite late-summer dishes is ratatouille. It helps to keep your spirits warm as fall begins to creep in and it’s outstandly satisfying to make. You chop and chop and chop, throwing everything into a big pot to swim together, and an hour or so later the flavors have melded to become an out-of-this-world delicious meal. And it’s healthy. If that ain’t perfect, I don’t know what is (a triple chocolate cookie, maybe?)

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about ratatouille lately (if you couldn’t tell.) I’ve been jonesing for it more than the berries and peaches of summer. I been so friggin’ upset that I have to wait for ratatoutille (because, god forbid, I will not eat out of season tomatoes) that it totally clouded my brain and I couldn’t think of anything else. And then when I was flipping through my new cookbook, a lightbulb popped over one recipe. A pot of winter vegetables, slowly stewed in some fat—a winter ratatouille!

It’s made with just about every winter vegetable you can find. Like a ratatouille, you cook most of the vegetables (cut in similar sizes) together in a pot for a relatively long amount of time, and near the end of cooking you add in potatoes (instead of tomatoes.) In place of the olive oil, I cooked the vegetables in some bacon fat and beef broth. You could use butter and vegetable broth to make it vegetarian.

If you like cabbage and brussels sprouts, you need to try this. If you don’t like cabbage, you need to try this. If you are a human who consumes food, you need to try this. It’s delicious, hearty, filling, and super healthy. It’s now in my recipe box under the label “miracle food.”

It’s certainly a meal on it’s own, but serve it with sausages if you want something more. Make sure to put out good, grainy mustard, horseradish, and butter on the table so everyone can add what they want to their plates. Left-overs are even better than the first try.

Winter Ratatouille

serves plenty//from Everyone Eats Well in Belgium

  • 4 oz bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dices
  • 4 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, well-rinsed and thickly sliced
  • 1 head Savoy cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
  • 4 turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 cups beef, chicken, or vegetable broth
  • Bouquet garni: 5 sprigs parsley, 1 sprig fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf, tied together
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 lb red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-in cubes
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley

Fry the bacon until crisp in a large enameled dutch oven over medium heat. When crisp, remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add onions, leeks, cabbage, carrots, turnips, and brussels sprouts to bacon fat. Cook until soft, about 12 minutes. Stir the veggies throughout and don’t let them brown. Add the broth, bouquet garni, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cover and cook 30 minutes.

Add potatoes and bacon into pot. Cover and leave lid slightly ajar. Continue cooking until the potatoes and done and the liquid is almost all evaporated, 15 to 25 minutes. Discard bouquet garni. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir together with a wooden spoon, sprinkle with parsley. Serve it to anyone who’s chilly. Or hungry.