Although the recipe calls for pairing the ratatouille with tempeh, a soy-based product, I chose to add quinoa and chickpeas for my protein. Although I'm sure animal based proteins would go nicely in this dish, they are definitely not necessary, and I urge you to stick to vegetarian proteins for this one- see below for some startling statistics on the benefits of eating vegetarian.
Ratatouille (with tempeh)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch strips
1 small eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes (about 2 medium) or one 15-ounce can low-sodium diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (I only had balsamic and apple cider vinegar, which I split evenly and it tasted fine!)
1 12-ounce package tempeh, cut into 1-inch pieces (or tofu/1 8 oz. can chickpeas/cannellini beans)
1/4 cup basil leaves, shredded (optional)
In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add onion and bell pepper and saute for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add remaining oil, eggplant, and zucchini. Season with salt, cayenne pepper, thyme, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes more.
Add tomatoes with their juices, honey, vinegar, and tempeh. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Divide among four shallow bowls and top with fresh basil.
Why to consider Vegetarian (even if only for a day)
19% of the total use of fossil fuels in America goes to our food supply. On average, three calories of energy create one calorie of edible food. However, some foods require ALOT more: each calorie of grain-fed beef requires 35 calories of energy. As a general rule, eating foods produced directly through photosynthesis, such as plants, will require less total energy than foods produced by animals who eat those plants (on average, it takes 6 kilograms of plant protein to produce 1 kilogram of animal protein; the ratio for beef is 40:1!). However, be mindful of how pesticides and food miles can deviate from this rule: plant foods can be heavily fossil-fuel fertilizer based and cultivated with energy-consuming equipment, and pasteurized/grass fed beef required approximately half the energy of its industrial-produced counterparts.
Sustainable Food Committee, Emory University. Eating Sustainably: An Introduction to Sustainable Food. 2010. Print.