In a bid to get children to eat healthier, ‘The Cook At Home Dad’ shares tips and recipes he creates for and with his kids.
I am sneaky and I admit it. I have a finicky eater who is apparently “allergic” to anything healthy. She is so allergic, I have spent years cleaning up discarded veggies from the floor, spit out in napkins, and placed on siblings’ plates. I decided to get ninja-dad on her and make a family cooking night part of our routine (stay tuned for vlogs showcasing these nights).
Ratatouille is a rich, robust, and wonderful peasant dish from French cuisine that when made just right, can stand on its own as a main dish (I’ve done this more than once at dinner parties to lauding applause). I decided to show my girls an animated movie of the same title as this recipe (if you don’t know which movie, google the recipe title as this post is not Disney sponsored).
Just before the movie’s climax, I paused the film and encouraged everyone to wash their hands, get in the kitchen, wash the produce and they each used the mandolin slicer with such pride! They took great care in fanning out and arranging the veggies in the pan, and kept running up to the oven and yelling: “turn on the light! Let’s see if it is done!” We watched the movie come to a close and they were as thrilled with the plot as they were with the enticing aroma that took over the house.
I burst with pride to ensure you they all tried ratatouille (though did not all love it, #finickycritic). The fact that I got even my most finicky eater to not only identify produce, work with it, cook it, and try it? I feel like I have won a bit as a dad! Give this recipe/idea a whirl at your house and see if you have a similar experience!
- 1 small zucchini
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 small yellow squash
- 1 small sweet onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch red pepper flake
- 1 pinch dried basil
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 large can crushed tomatoes
- salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Using a mandolin, slice veggies into even cuts. (For the eggplant you may need to use a knife – I had to!)
- In a medium sauce pan, saute’ whole garlic cloves with 2 T olive oil until golden brown.
- Add pepper flake and basil once the garlic has browned (I eat garlic every day and made sure that the two cloves went into my serving. You can remove and discard, or mince the garlic and recombine in the sauce).
- Slowly and carefully add the crushed tomatoes (there will be spatter).
- Stir in the tomato paste until well combined.
- Cover and simmer on medium low for about 10 minutes.
- In a shallow baking dish, cover the entire bottom with the sauce in an even coat.
- Fan the vegetables one on top of the other until the pan is covered (the order we placed the vegetables: eggplant, onion, zucchini, squash – this was where the kids really got involved and they loved doing it).
- Drizzle with remaining olive oil and add a liberal amount of salt and pepper.
- Place the baking dish in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Goes great with a really crispy bread such as ciabatta and a peppery Shiraz (not for the kids, they can have grape juice). “Until we cook again!”
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Photo: courtesy of the author
Originally appeared on The Cook At Home Dad. Reprinted with permission.