ELC Day #23 Ratatouille Bruschetta

I’ve always thought eggplant was exotic and cool; not quite vegetable, not exactly fruit. It can blend into the background of dishes or stand out as the star.  It grows a deep purple color of royalty and class.  It’s just all-around cool to see eggplant growing in the garden.

Honestly, I feel the same way about most things grown in Minnesota.  It’s impressive to me what we are able to produce in our region.  We may not have king crab or pineapples, but we have wheat.  Imagine what it’s like to be a Florida Locavore where wheat is not on the menu. No fresh warm bread.  No taco shells. No pasta. Be glad there’s wheat people.

Why Buy Local #2 :  Eating local food connects me to the place I live. 

Whether it’s growing an eggplant or visiting a free-range turkey farm, one of my favorite things about eating locally is what it teaches me about my home.  Since beginning a locavore diet last year, I have a better understanding of what grows in the region and who is growing it.  I am connected to the residents who grow in our community garden.  I am connected to the vendors who bring my produce to the farmers’ market each weekend.  I am connected to the regional resources pushing the local food movement forward.  Eating locally was how Minnesota came to feel like my community and my home.

Not only does eating locally connect me to the people, it also connects me to the Earth. Let’s face it, pumpkins do not grow in April any more than watermelon grows in November.  When I eat locally, I eat with the seasons and with the timing of the Earth.  It takes my patience in the spring when I’m itching to get in the garden, and it humbles me each fall when the first frosts ends the season.  Each of us needs a way to feel connected to our planet–if not we’re in serious trouble.  Local food is my way to connect.

All of the ingredients in this ratatouille bruschetta are local.  All are seasonal.  All connect me to Minnesota and the great community I live in, in one way or another.

Ratatouille Bruschetta 


For the Ratatouille
1 medium eggplant, chopped in 1/2″ chunks
1 medium zucchini, chopped in 1/2″ chunks
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 C. sunflower oil
freshly ground black pepper

For the Bruschetta
1 loaf of crusty artisan bread, cut into 1/2″ slices
sliced mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese for topping

1. Combine all ratatouille ingredients in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook 10-15 minutes until vegetables are tender.
2. Meanwhile, place one slice of mozzarella cheese on each slice of bread and place in one layer on a baking sheet. When vegetables are cooked, spoon 1-2 tablespoons of ratatouille mixture on each slice of bread.
3. Place under a broiler for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. Sprinkle each with parmesan cheese.

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  • Kauan

    Hi All: I am telling you was LAME but, well, the basic cponect is this: 2-3 lb shoulder gets a 36 hour wet brine, dry it off/marinade, smoke for 8 hours, slice, fry. The bone ended up in our baked home-grown cranberry beans last night (local sorghum molasses too) and I’ve made a hash with some of it for breakfast this a.m. So yeah, I am using it like you’d use rough bacon: as a flavoring, not as a dish itself. Tonight it will probably zest up some collards. Monday night’s bacon and eggs, though, was yummy.Kate, you’re the girl who rigged up her home-made smoker, right? We’ve been pretty pleased with for the holidays. It’s gotten a lot of use, and I can’t wait to smoke some tomatoes on it next summer.Christy, you’re right; balance in one’s food is pretty danged important. We do try very hard to eat our ideals but hey the kid brought home a bag of Hershey’s Kisses last Friday from her grandma and I *had* to help her eat them But really, if we *want* to eat it, I would rather our dollars go to reward someone local who treats his/her animals well.Mrs Chiot, the one I bought for Tom is a combo smoker/grill thing so I didn’t feel bad about buying a single-use thing. It also has a propane attachment to deep-fry a turkey but I might just use my canner on top of it during the heat of summer. But venison! I see enough deer around here I tend to wonder about how they’d taste.Dennis, the secret IS in the taste I think. I remember tasting an industrial chicken and it was like gum, old, flavorless gum! Stew is some wonderful stuff, so I am glad you found that farmer. And he is quite glad you found him too: with the rising prices of grain and fuel and with folks tightening their belts, many marginal meat-growers will probably go out of business this year. I know mine probably will and it makes me really sad!Angie, hah! Welcome to the confessional! I remember how tough it was for you to find local goodies like meat and milk but now you’d never go back. It’s okay, certainly, that you’re not much of a carbophile!Judy, yeah, I never could quite wrap my head around the tiny-sides, big-flesh thing at restaurants (especially chain ones). And even as a veg they just substituted cheese for where the meat would go: no thanks, really. (Can’t I have four servings of broccoli instead?) YAY, though, another meat-smoker! It’s very satisfying, isn’t it.Deborah, hah! I simply didn’t want to do another braise, and the stuff in the freezer usually spans a couple of meals so the smoking was a great solution. Have fun with it.Firefly, UGH, I know. Squeezing commodity corn and especially soya into things like riblets? PLEASE. Yeah, as a beginning veg I lived in a city so I would simply eat a ton of ethnic foods because they aren’t meat-focused. I never really felt the urge to go fake; the vegetable/grain/milk/egg world was plenty big in my book. The story you tell about your eczema is a cautionary one, and I thank you. Eating real, whole, non-processed foods in all their myriad forms is still the best diet, and this includes meat. I think it will be another 10-12,000 years before our bodies can properly process HFCS. In the meantime, diabetes and obesity are the result of cheap, readily-available processed food.Bobbi, it isn’t quite the same as bacon but it’s got that nice smoky flavor. (Shoulder isn’t nearly as fatty as belly so it won’t have that crunch.) Give it a try!Pamela, hi, you snuck in there when I was typing this up. Yes well I am nothing if not riddled by guilt by all I do to trash the world so giving back in the smallest way I can like eating grass-fed meats is one way I assuage it. I don’t know if that’ll help your kids, though, guilt not quite easily being transferrable .

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