Your kids may not be able to pronounce, let alone spell ratatouille (heck, even I have trouble spelling it sometimes) but they will love making and eating it. The way I like to prepare this traditional French dish makes it a match made in heaven between what kids like to eat (pasta) and what parents want kids to eat (anything but pasta).
Ratatouille is a casserole based around the androgynous zucchini (it’s a vegetable, no, it’s a fruit!). But if you peel the whole zucchini (minus the seeds) instead of chopping it, you have something that, when sautéed instead of baked, tastes like pasta, feels like pasta, and even looks like pasta. However, you end up with a more nutrient-rich “fettuccini” with a little variety, and some unexpected health benefits that kind of give it super food status.
As for preparing the meal, you may not be ready to let your junior Emeril Lagasse wield a 10” chef’s knife, but hand them a peeler and the risk to reward factor is significantly improved. Put simply, kids love using peelers where adults may slip into a coma of boredom. So this is another win-win.
Still not convinced? You can always entice them by watching Pixar’s Ratatouille first while you let the rosé wine called for in this recipe, um, breath.
Gather Your Ingredients
These are my suggested ingredients, but if your child is like mine, you will know what to add and what not to add to their taste (traditionally, ratatouille contains eggplant but our daughter won’t go anywhere near it so we leave it out)
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 TSP salt
½ pound of crimini mushrooms, chopped
4 12” long zucchinis, peeled to the seeds (including skin if you are so inclined), discard core
6-10 cloves of garlic, diced
2 cups dry rosé
2 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped
2 TBSP dried basil
Pepper to taste
Cook It Up
Add half of the olive oil to large sauté pan and heat to medium high.
Add the salt and onions and sauté until clear.
Add mushrooms and zucchini, continue sautéing until zucchini brightens.
Add garlic and sauté for a minute or two longer.
Add wine, tomatoes, and basil and sauté until zucchini is soft, but not mushy; kind of like al dente pasta.
Add pepper to taste and serve alone, with vegan meatballs, or over toast.