Garden Ratatouille

Enjoy this savory dish with vegetables from your Grey Bears bag and your garden!

Ingredients
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 green bell pepper thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
2 c sliced fresh mushrooms
2 medium zucchini thinly sliced
1 medium eggplant peeled and cubed
3 T minced fresh basil
1 jar vegetable pasta sauce
1/4 c grated cheese – optional

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In large skillet, heat 2 T oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, red and green peppers and mushrooms. Sauté until vegetables are tender. Remove and set aside. Sauté zucchini and eggplant adding more oil if needed. Return sautéed pepper mixture to skillet, add basil, sauce and simmer 5 minutes over low heat. Spoon vegetable mixture into shallow baking dish, add cheese and bake covered 20 – 25 minutes. (Serves 4-6)

About Olive Oil
Olives, one of the oldest foods known, are thought to have originated in Crete between five and seven thousand years ago and the oil has been consumed since as early as 3,000 B.C. It is one of the most health-promoting types of oils available. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that researchers are discovering has excellent health benefits. It offers protection against chronic degenerative disease such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, asthma, colon cancer, and arthritis when used instead of less healthy fats. Relying only on olive oil may cut your risk of coronary heart disease almost in half, as seen in the CARDIO2000 case-control study. Olive oil is a functional food that is also rich in antioxidants and phenolic compounds with a variety of protective effects reducing the risk of LDL oxidation and its consequences. And its rich supply of polyphenols, which are known to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticoagulant actions, may also be central to emerging evidence that olive oil’s heart protective effects extend to colon cancer and osteoporosis. Consuming more than a couple of tablespoons at a meal however can increase free radical damage of cholesterol. Since the phenols and vitamin E in olive oil are damaged by light and heat, purchase and store your olive oil in an opaque container in a cool place. Don’t use olive oil for cooking. Steam or lightly sauté foods in a flavorful broth, then dress with olive oil immediately after cooking. You’ll get more flavor and more nutrients from your oil. Available in a number of grades, extra-virgin is the unrefined oil derived from the first pressing of the olives, has the most delicate flavor and is the healthiest option.

Recipe from Ed Bauman, PhD and Cathy Cohn, NC