Tarte Ratatouille – CYOB [The Traveling Bite]

With all the French-culture rooted in Belgium, this Tarte Ratatouille is the perfect way to take a healthy meal while exploring Bruxelles and all of the most famous Belgian bites.

Create Your Own Bite #8

Tarte Ratatouille

A borrowed bite from my long-time friend and my host during my stay in Bruxelles, Laura Dagard.

2 Cans Peeled, Diced Tomatoes

1 Medium Tomato, Diced

1 Large Zucchini, Diced

1 White Onion, Diced

1 Yellow Bell Pepper, Seeded and Diced

2 Cloves Garlic, Minced

1 Rolled Pie Crust

Salt, White Pepper, and Basil, To Taste

This recipe makes approximately 6 one-slice servings.

Estimated Calories:  200

Before leaving for my summer abroad, I asserted that I would not sacrifice experiencing a city or country’s cultural highlights for my health diary or fitness concerns. But never has one location challenged my mission to fill my body with healthy, nutritious foods as much as the city of Bruxelles, Belgium.

Known for the Belgian waffle, Belgian “frittes,” beer, and, of course, the world’s finest chocolate, (amongst other sinful sweets and heavy foods), Belgium was where I passed this last weekend, and sampled all the country’s gastronomic highlights.

Uniquely treated Belgian fries, specialty chocolates and biscuits, the most coveted beers and thick, Belgian waffles coated in Belgian chocolate, fresh fruit, and cream make Belgium a famous spot for culinary indulgences.

Of course, when in Belgium….there’s no reason to forgo these unique culinary experiences. One weekend abroad won’t be the end-all to an otherwise healthy and nutritious lifestyle. But if you’re looking to explore other aspects of Belgium – historic monuments, typical shops, pubs and museums, you’ll need the energy from more nutritious food in order to make it through a busy weekend of sightseeing.

I was fortunate enough to be passing the weekend with an old friend, Laura, in her beautiful apartment just outside the city center.  In order to strike a balance with my hectic two-day tour of all things Belgian, we took our main meals for the day at home. The first day I arrived, we tossed together a fresh mixed salad for lunch, and we started each morning after with a solid breakfast of yogurt, diced apricots and apples, strawberries and whole grapes, with a “petit pain” on the side.

On Saturday, we passed on lunch in order to sample the traditional Belgian french-fry, and had a hearty, nutritious dinner to compensate. Laura proposed the “Tarte Rataouille,” a family recipe she learned from her mother while growing up in France.

The foundation for any ratatouille is a combination of fresh, seasonal vegetables with tomatoes. This provincial French dish can be transformed in a number of ways, and is a great staple in any vegetarian’s recipe repetoire.

This borrowed bite has no exact measurements. As Laura says, she makes it “avec sentiment,” feeling the recipe and adding as she goes. Together, we diced the zucchini, tomato, onion, and bell pepper while the two cans of diced tomatoes simmered on the stovetop with the basil, garlic, salt and pepper mixed in.

After adding the raw vegetables, the basic ratatouille is left to cook on  medium heat until the onions have turned transluscent and the white of the zucchini has faded.

When the vegetables have finished cooking, and the ratatouille has thickened, Laura unrolled the crust into a pie pan, and pressed the dough into the edges of the dish.  Make sure to “dock,” or poke holes with a fork or knife into the bottom of the crust to allow air to escape.

Try partially baking the crust first, as it has a tendency to get soggy during the cooking process.  Afterward, pour the ratatouille evenly into the pan, before baking it in the oven for approximatley 20 or 30 minutes at a medium heat, (or according to the directions on your pie crust).

Because the ratatouille is such a healthy, low-calorie dish, it makes a great filling for the pie crust, which serves as a buttery, flaky, and completely necessary component in this family recipe.

Eat with friends, and follow with a traditional Belgium beer for an unforgettable European evening. With a healthy end to the night, you’ll be refreshed for more Liege-style waffles with carmelized pearl sugar in the morning.

Á votre santé!

Melanie

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