Friday, July 10, 2015

Ratatouille with Penne: Easy Summery Veggie Pasta Dinner {One Photo Friday}

It's July's Mystery Box Madness Challenge week at I Heart Cooking Clubs where we make a dish from Jacques Pépin or any former IHCC chef that must include at least three mystery ingredients out of a list of ten. 

July's Mystery Box Madness Ingredients:
Sesame Seeds 
Mozzarella Cheese 
Brown Sugar

Since zucchini is so abundant this time of year, I used it as my starting and quickly zeroed in on Jacques Pépin's Ratatouille with Penne from More Fast Food My Way. In addition to the zucchini, the recipe included penne pasta, and it had the option of topping the dish with fresh basil or parsley, my third MBM ingredient. When I went out to the lanai to chop the Italian parsley and basil, I grabbed some mint, adding a fourth MBM ingredient to the mix.
A photo sans cheese--so you can see and appreciate the color and beauty of the veggies.

I made a few changes to the recipe (noted in red below), based on what I had on hand and what I like (extra garlic & capers whenever I can add them). ;-) With fresh local eggplant, onion, zucchini and herbs, this is a perfect easy dinner for a summer night.

Jacques says, "Ratatouille, the classic vegetable stew of Provence, is featured in all the small restaurants along its coast. Vegetables for ratatouille are usually prepared separately and not combined until the end. Here everything is cooked together. I don't bother to peel the eggplant, but do so if you wish. I recommend Japanese eggplants for this dish. Long and thin, they are firmer and have fewer seeds than regular eggplants. 

Ratatouille is generally served on its own, at room temperature, sprinkled with the best-quality olive oil, olives, and parsley. I use it as a pasta sauce, tossing it with cooked penne before garnishing it with olive oil, olives, grated Parmesan cheese, and parsley or basil."


Ratatouille with Penne
Adapted from More Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pépin
(Makes 4 Generous Servings

1 long Japanese eggplant or small regular eggplant (about 10 oz), cut into 1-inch pieces
2 small firm zucchini (about 1/2 lb total), cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 cubanelle or long Italian peppers (about 1/2 lb total), seeded & cut into 1-inch pieces (I used 5 red and yellow mini sweet peppers)
2 cups cubed (3/4-inch) onions
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped garlic (I used 3 Tbsp)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes in sauce (I used fire-roasted in garlic & basil)
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 lb penne pasta
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil (I omitted the extra oil--didn't feel it needed it)
1/2 cup small pitted oil-cured black olives (I used Kalamata olives & halved them)

(I added 2 Tbsp capers)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for the table
A few fresh basil or parsley leaves, for garnish (I used parsley, basil & mint leaves)

For the ratatouille: Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Mix well, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook gently for 30 minutes. If the mixture still has a lot of liquid, reduce it by boiling, uncovered, for 3 to 4 minutes. Cool to room temperature. You will have about 5 cups.

For the penne: Bring 3 quarts salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the penne and stir it in well, so it doesn't stick together. Return to a boil, stirring occasionally, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until it is cooked to your liking.
Meanwhile, combine the ratatouille, 3/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and olive oil in a large glass bowl and microwave for a couple of minutes to warm it through. Drain the pasta and add it to the ratatouille in the bowl. Sprinkle on the olives and the cheese and mix well. Divide among four hot plates and garnish with the herbs and grated cheese. Pass more at the table.

Note: To serve the ratatouille on its own, spoon it into a serving dish, drizzle on a little extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle with 1/4 cup pitted oil-cured black olives or kalamata olives, and garnish with 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil or parsley.

And a photo of how the dish looks with freshly-grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Notes/Results: A dish for a happy belly, satisfying, comforting and great flavor. I am glad I punched up the garlic and threw in the capers--they added to the dish without overpowering it. This is an easy recipe that cooks away without fuss or a need for standing over the stove and you can cook the pasta and prepare the garnishes while the veggies are simmering. It is also a good base recipe, you can add whatever veggies you like. Simple and a good use for your farmers market, garden or CSA bounty, I would make it again.  


You can see what mystery ingredients, recipes and chefs other participants chose for July's Mystery Box Madness Challenge by checking out the picture links on the post at the IHCC website.

{One Photo Friday: Since I normally drag out my big camera and gear, take a bunch of photos of my recipes, and then spend time obsessing over them--I decided that for Fridays, I'll simplify by posting a recipe or something interesting and then just take (usually) one photo of it with my iPhone--no muss/no fuss.}   


  1. Deb, this dish is gorgeous! I love the colors. :)

  2. Deb,
    What a perfect summer meal . I love the addition of olives with or without the pasta...Looks delicious

  3. What can be better than the farmers' market galore with rainbow color vegetables served up with your special pasta sauce and extra garlic and capers? Love all the changes you've made to the dish. Only wish that I can have a taste of it!

  4. sounds delicious with the addition of mint!

  5. With the mint it sounds very Sicilian - it looks delicious!

  6. I love the idea of ratatouille as a pasta sauce and I like the changes you made - capers would definitely add to the flavour.

  7. Deb your one photo Friday sounds like a great idea. Love the dish it looks so good and healthy.

  8. Love ratatouille at this time of year! It's just so seasonally perfect.

  9. Oh,Yes please. This looks so Summery and delicious. Nice job on the Mystery Box. Never go wrong with veggies and pasta.

  10. Hi Deb,
    Your ratatouille pasta looks delicious! I've made this too a few months ago, and the family love it as well!

  11. Deb,
    Your ratatouille and pasta sounds like a perfect summer recipe. Love your photos..


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)