Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ratatouille with Mushroom and Improved Walnut Parmesan

For the mid-day meal with the omnis I decided a cooked dish would be better received. Since we bought groceries yesterday and went to the farmers’ market today our refrigerator is jammed with produce. Every week after the farmers’ market I think we will never eat all the produce, and yet we always do. Go figure how that happens. In order to make some space in the refrigerator I decided to make ratatouille but with a few dried mushrooms for their antiproliferative effects.

One of the tricks to making ratatouille is to stir it as little as possible. When you do stir be careful not to break up the vegetables. You also want to cook the veggies low and slow. I use a heavy enamel cast iron pan and simmer the dish for about an hour and a half. Here is what I did:

Ratatouille with Mushroom
Serves 6 as a meal

Ratatouille Ingredients:

1 cup dried mushrooms soaked in 2 cups hot water until softened then cut into bite-sized pieces, strain the soaking liquid to add to the pot (about 30 minutes)
4 large tomatoes, peeled and diced or 2 – 14 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 large red onion, finely diced
10 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 bell peppers, flesh only, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon dulse granules (found in your health food store, tastes salty and provided iodine)
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup parsley, minced,  for garnish
24 fresh basil leaves, julienned, for garnish
walnut parmesan, for garnish

Rice Ingredients:

2 cups brown basmati rice
4 cups water
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (adds a buttery flavor to the rice)


Combine everything, except the parsley, basil and walnut parmesan in a large pot with a lid. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about an hour and half, gently stirring occasionally just to make certain nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

After the ratatouille has cooked for 45 minutes start the rice cooking.

Serve the ratatouille warm or room temperature for the best flavor. Tonight we had the ratatouille over brown rice but you could also use quinoa, millet, polenta or garlic toast. I added a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt to my parents servings. However, Dan and I had ours as written and though it had plenty of flavor.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 350.8
Calories From Fat (7%) - 23.81

Total Fat - 2.74g
Saturated Fat - 0.51g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 38.65mg
Potassium - 1164.84mg
Total Carbohydrates - 72.52g
Fiber - 10.28g
Sugar - 9.86g
Protein - 9.87g


The verdict: shockingly, even the omnis enjoyed this. They didn’t even ask what the walnut parmesan was. Will miracles never cease?

If Dan and I were eating this without my parents I would have added red pepper flakes, but we like heat. More garlic would not have been a bad thing but it doesn’t “need it”. The garlic suggestion is just my Italian DNA talking. Overall I thought it was good and that I should have made more since it will be gone by lunch tomorrow. Bummer. ;-)

Next recipe:

We ran out of walnut parmesan because I have been putting it on just about anything savory. It is really good on salad. Today I needed to make another batch so I wanted to tweak the recipe a bit and see if I could make the flavor a little bit more complex. Here is what I did:

Walnut Parmesan – improved
Makes 24 servings of about a fat ½ tablespoon each


1 ½ cup walnuts
6 tablespoons nutritional yeast
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dulse granules (for saltiness and iodine)


Combine the ingredients in your food processor and pulse until you have a fine meal. Taste for seasonings and adjust to your taste.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 56.86
Calories From Fat (83%) - 47.17

Total Fat - 4.77g
Saturated Fat - 0.45g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 0.87mg
Potassium - 35.81mg
Total Carbohydrates - 1.08g
Fiber - 0.5g
Sugar - 0.2g
Protein - 1.12g


This version has more depth of flavor. The first version is good but I think I prefer this one. The only other item I thought I might add was a pinch of dry mustard. However since that can be overwhelming (and Dan isn’t a huge fan) I left that out this time. It may make it into the next batch though. ;-)

Unrelated notes:

For dessert I whipped up a batch of strawberry banana soft serve (similar to what I made here) and they both enjoyed it and suggested that I make it again soon. What, who are this people and what have they done with my unhealthy parents? I was absolutely speechless and that does not happen often I can assure you. ;-)

As you guys know I don’t really measure the soft serve since I make it almost every night for Dan. If you have a Vitamix it is really easy. Add about an inch of walnuts to the base of the blender container, then two frozen bananas, about 4 cups of frozen strawberries, enough water to come up the sides of the container about 1 ½ inches (with the other items in the blender), about ¼ teaspoon of powdered ginger and cinnamon and stevia to taste. Blend until thick and creamy. That is all there is to it. Everyone that has tried it so far has loved it and it couldn’t be easier. If you want to make this a full meal (my hubby will have this for breakfast) add ½ cup of dry oats you processed into flour before you add the nuts. The oatmeal adds protein and calories, if you are light on either. ;-)

A lovely little storm just rolled through here. Please note the heavy sarcasm in my prior statement. ;-) I heard we had tornado warnings but thankfully I don’t see any damage out our windows and the power is still on. Apparently we dodged a bullet. ;-) I thought I left tornadoes in my rear view mirror when I left Indiana, but NO. *shakes head*

I need to clean up my kitchen and decide what I am going to make Dan and me for dinner. Since we eat lunch/supper with my parents at 3pm on the weekend dinner for us will be late. I will try to post it tonight but no promises. You may not see that until tomorrow. I hope everyone is having a great weekend.


  1. I love to shop in farmer's market, Ratatouille is inviting n yumm.

  2. RV,

    The produce at the farmers' market is hard to resist isn't it?

    This dish worked well for the omnis. I was a little surprised by how much they enjoyed it. ;-)


  3. The ratatouille sounds good; I agree, I love to eat it as a room-temerature's even better the next day I think.

    Thanks for the walnut parm recipe, sounds good with the paprika and the like...I think the variations around this theme are large and promising.

  4. Rose,

    I agree the flavor does seem to improve the next day. Good point, I should have mentioned that.

    We have been using the walnut parm on almost everything. I wanted to shake it up a bit. I also think pine nuts in place of walnuts would be divine. But the nutrition is so much better on the walnuts I couldn't make myself use pine nuts instead. ;-) Maybe I could do 3/4 walnut 1/4 pine nut, LOL.

    hope you are having a good weekend,

  5. Yikes on the storms. Tornadoes are really common here. Dinner looks fantastic as always!

  6. Heather,

    We are accustomed to hurricanes here but tornadoes are not as common as where you live. The lack of warning is very disturbing. Thankfully they missed our neighborhood but the wind was blowing and we were ready to stuff the felines in carrying bags and head for the basement.

    Thanks, lunch did work out well today. I was shocked that my parents liked it so much. They really loved the strawberry banana soft serve with walnuts. That blew me away.

    talk to you later,

  7. Thanks for the tip on dulse granules. :) I haven't tried this product, or even heard of it before now. I am looking forward to seeking this product out in my local health food store! :)
    I enjoy shopping for good food/products more than clothes, shoes, etc............!

  8. Naina,

    They make a few different dulse products. If you like spicy there is one with cayenne that is good. They also make a garlic version. I tend to buy the plain and add garlic powder or cayenne as needed. I have turned a few people on to the dulse granules. Everyone seems to like them.

    Clothes shopping was a bit of a necessity. I have been shrinking out of my clothes recently. Getting back to weight lifting seems to be the difference. But generally I agree with you food and kitchen gadget shopping are a lot of fun.


  9. Congrats! On needing new clothes for positive reasons. :)

    Perhaps one post could be about your weight lifting routine. Maybe I will get inspired. :)

  10. Naina,

    Thanks! :-) Shrinking out of my clothes is better than the alternative.

    My lifting routine is different every day. I work different body parts on different days. Today was chest, shoulders and triceps.

    Do you own "The New Rules for Lifting"? I just bought it and I think it is written for people of all experience levels. However I think it is more useful for those that are beginner or intermediate lifters.

    I will think about how to incorporate my lifting routines into a few posts. I intentionally change my routine often so my body doesn't get used to the workout. Does that make sense?

    talk to you later,

  11. Even when I ate meat I loved ratatouille. It's so rich and satisfying.

    I shall make some of your walnut parmesan, the mock parmesan that you can buy in tubs leaves a lot to be desired!!

    Thanks for sharing :-)


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