Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Road to Ratatouille

Lisa doing some quality cutting of vegetables with the kids.

A Day of Volunteering and not Cutting my Thumbs Off

On the road to ratatouille (not the movie, the actual dish!), teaching kids how to use knives and make healthy food choices was my calling recently. Let me explain...

For the past 6 months, the new members of the Junior League of Santa Barbara have been preparing for our new member project: "Kids in the Kitchen." Although I was not a huge part of the planning process (I secured food donations) I was looking forward to a day of helping out my community by educating children and their families about healthy living.

Last weekend, the actual event went off without a hitch. In the morning a fellow crossfitter (Lisa Engel from Cross fit Pacific Coast) and I showed up to Franklin Elementary (the site of the event) to prep the food for the day. We mostly joked and talked and tried not to cut our thumbs off. After the prep work was done, we were assigned to the cutting detail. We would both be supervising children with knives while they helped us cut veggies to put into the ratatouille (the dish of choice). Good news; we all made it out, children included, unscathed with enough vegetables for our fine dish!

Overall, the day went well and our community appreciated our efforts to bring them information about healthy living. Not only did we cook an amazing ratatouille that everyone enjoyed, but the children and their families also came away with information about physical fitness courtesy of the YMCA and suggestions about good nutrition and ideas on how to prevent diabetes from the Santa Barbara and Ventura departments of public health.

What could be better than two crossfitters, volunteerism, knives, and good food? Not much.
Here is the recipe that we used for the ratatouille (for you crossfitters, this is PALEO! minus the white beans):
*courtesy of Chef Andrea Martin of s'Cool Food

Ratatouille (makes 8 hearty portions)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 medium onions diced
3 cloves of fresh garlic chopped
1 eggplant, 1/2 inch diced
1 red bell pepper, 1/4 inch diced
1 yellow bell pepper, 1/4 inch diced
1 orange pepper, 1/4 inch diced
2 small zucchinis, 1/2 inch diced
2 small yellow squash, 1/2 inch diced
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 pounds roma/plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup of dry white beans, soaked and pre-cooked (reserve two cups cooking liquid)
1 bunch of kale (was and tear into two inch pieces)
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon of pepper

1. Heat oil in heavy bottom stockpot over a low-medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Add eggplant and continue cooking, stirring occasionally. When eggplant is lightly browned and tender, remove from the pot.
3. Add a little more olive oil and saute peppers until slightly tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Add zucchini, squash, and rosemary to the pepper mixture in the pot and continue sauteing until tender.
5. Add tomatoes, beans and bean cooking liquid, and the eggplant. Bring up to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Finish by adding the kale and cook until tender (about 5 minutes).
8. Add basil just before serving.

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At 10:38 PM , Blogger CJ said...

What's the age limit for kids in the kitchen? :)

At 12:42 PM , Blogger Jaala Thibault said...

You could have come and learned some cooking skills CJ. But if you were looking for your cooking, massaging, cleaning, non ruskie chick, I think they were all too young.


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