CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Not Your Mom’s Ratatouille

If you’re a gardener who grows a variety of vegetables, the classic Nicoise dish, ratatouille, should be right up your alley.

The stewed vegetable entree consisting of eggplant, tomato, pepper, zucchini, onion and herbs has been has been a favorite in France for many, many years, but it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that ratatouille rose to the prominence it enjoys today.

That’s when the animated movie by that name from Disney/Pixar came out and a rat with a keen sense of smell named Remy became a great Parisian chef after a soujourn into French countryside.

I had been familiar with the dish since the 1970s, when co-workers Tim Fought and Marcia Harris, both prolific gardeners, introduced me to the tasty entree. Since then, I usually make a pot or two of it every summer — it’s very easy to prepare — with fresh produce from my own garden.

My recipe, which follows, contains all the vegetables listed above plus a few more, thus the name “Not Your Mother’s Ratatouille.”

It’s not the classical dish that you would find in an upscale restaurant in Nice, France, but I’m sure that my French-Canadians ancestors who came to North America as peasants in the 17th and 18th centuries would say “Oui.”

Not Your Mom’s Ratatouille
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato bruschetta
6 Roma tomatoes, skins removed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
½ green pepper, chopped
1 small or ½ large eggplant, cubed
1 medium summer squash, seeds removed and cut into small chunks
3 small okra pods, sliced
1 cup cooked corn kernels
½ cup kale, chopped
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
¼ cup red wine
Place olive oil and add the onion, garlic and celery. Saute for a few minutes and then add the rest of the ingredients except the kale and basil. Cook for about 15 minutes and then add kale and basil. Cook another 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

2 thoughts on “CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Not Your Mom’s Ratatouille”

  • Greg Price September 13, 2017 at 11:18 am


    Love your recipes and column….have followed you since I lived in Devils Lake and you were still working at the Herald….thought I would give back….got a killer recipe for refrigerator sweet pickles…. enjoy…

    Thank you

    Greg Price

    Refrigerator Sweet Pickles

    7 cups sliced pickling cucumbers
    1 cup sliced onion
    1 cup sliced green pepper
    1 tablespoon celery seed
    2 tablespoons salt
    1 cup vinegar
    1 ½ cups sugar

    Whisk vinegar, salt celery seed, and sugar together. Pour over pickles , onions, and peppers.

    Mix well and coat all. Place in container in refrigerator. Will be ready to eat in 5-7 days.

    Won’t last long after it’s ready…

    1. Jeff Tiedeman September 13, 2017 at 11:57 am

      Thanks, Greg. Will have to try.


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