Ratatouille My Way

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When I was a single mom still raising my four kids I took a job managing a 150 site KOA campground. It was on the Gulf Coast and hundreds of snowbirds would come down during winter months passing through to Florida. There were also campers from other countries touring America with their rental cars and tents. Once a week I would put on a potluck event which was a great opportunity to taste food prepared from different areas of the America as well as other countries.

One of my kid’s favorite was a ratatouille casserole brought by a couple from the eastern seaboard. I learned to make it and served it often. I have not made it for years and when I tried to look up a similar recipe on the web there was none so I dug out my old notebook and decided to share with everyone. This recipe was always popular when I brought it at holiday time and it is a great way to use up any leftover cheeses you have in the refrigerator. When this starts baking the aroma is delicious.

  • 1 large bottle Italian Dressing in the bottle
  • 2 cups small diced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 medium or 2 small diced eggplant, peeled
  • 2 green peppers, cut in big chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in big chunks
  • 1 large or 2 medium zucchini squash, diced
  • 1 large diced yellow squash
  • 1 large can diced or whole tomatoes, no need to drain
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 8oz box mushrooms (optional)
  • Bread crumbs
  • Any and all left over and new cheeses like Swiss, cheddar, parmesan, Monterey jack, asiago (literally any cheeses, the more diverse the better).
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a large skillet with high sides or a deep Dutch oven place all the vegetables and seasonings together including the bottle of Italian Dressing. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer and cover. Continue simmering until vegetables are caramelized and in a thick sauce. This takes an hour or so.

When done turn off and set aside. Prepare a large enough baking dish with spray oil then start layering starting with the vegetable mixture just covering the bottom, then any of the cheeses mixed together, then a sprinkle of bread crumbs. Repeat the layers and finish with a light cover of the cheeses.

Bake at 350 until cheese is golden brown on top. Let set for 15 mins before serving.

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