The holiday season is upon us again and with that comes a rush of family and activity. These are all great things, and many of us look forward to the flurry of preparations and celebration all year long, but the holidays can also leave us with little to no time to get in the kitchen and prepare healthy meals for ourselves. Even the most disciplined and dedicated health-warriors among us are often left wanting come late-December. Not only do we not have the time to prepare healthy meals, we barely have enough time to go to the grocery store!
And so the question is: how can we create nourishing, flavorful meals for ourselves and our loved ones with little to no free time and with only a few odd-and-end ingredients lying around the kitchen?
We recently found a recipe on the One Ingredient Chef blog that we thought would be perfect for busy times when simple meals are in dire need. With this recipe, your slow-cooker does most all of the work for you, giving you the freedom to focus your attention where it’s most needed.
And just because this dish takes so little time to put together doesn’t mean that you’ll have to sacrifice on taste. Slow-cookers are great for melding flavors together over the course of several hours, tricking your palate into thinking that much more time and effort went into the meal than what it did.
Photo credit: Andrew Olsen
If you’ve never used a slow cooker before or you don’t have one, you can get the same results just by putting all of your ingredients together and cooking them slowly over low heat. There’s actually a lot of different ways ratatouille can be made, but all of them involve thinly slicing squash, peppers, onions, and usually eggplant into thin rounds and lining them around a pan with with whatever herbs you have in the kitchen.
In the end, no matter which cooking method you choose, I think you’ll find that our one-pot ratatouille recipe is perfect for times when life gets hectic and packaged, instant meals tend to sneak their way in. If you’re craving something warm and hearty during the holiday season, have just a few leftover veggies lying around and aren’t sure what to do with them, we hope you’ll give our ratatouille recipe a try!
Photo credit: Andrew Olsen
Preparation time is around 15 to 20 minutes and this recipe will easily serve a family of 4. Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
Note: You could alter this recipe in a number of ways. We omitted eggplant, but you could easily layer in some of that as well. You can use your favorite prepared marinara pasta sauce or make some from scratch if you are feeling adventurous. Italian herbs like thyme and tarragon would work really well with this recipe too.
This is the perfect time of year to break out your slow cooker and create flavorful dishes even if you’re short on time. Thanks to Andrew Olsen and Creative Commons at One Ingredient Chef for sharing this recipe!
Wash and slice the potatoes, zucchini, squash, red bell peppers, and red onion into thin rounds (1/8-inch or thinner). If you have a mandolin, that makes things much easier but you can also do it by hand. Also mince a few cloves of garlic and set aside.
Pour one cup of the pasta sauce into the bottom of your slow cooker, then (the hardest part) overlap the veggies and potatoes in a circular pattern around the edges (and fill in the middle) until you’ve used them all. Stop after each row and add a dash of salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Note: you may not want to use full slices of onion on each level, feel free to use just 1-2 rings each time you layer the onions.
Pour about 2 cups more sauce on top (it will slowly trickle down as it cooks) and slow-cook on high for about 3-4 hours until the potatoes are tender. To serve, garnish with some fresh basil and/or vegan “parmesan” which can be made by blending cashews (plus nutritional yeast and salt, if you’d like) in a high-powered blender until they’re pulverized.
Matt Jager is a wellness activist, yogi and co-founder of True Wellth. His life mission is to transform the healthcare and food system in this country, so that every single person has access to the tools and support they need to look and feel their best, control their health, own their happiness and revolutionize their well-being.