For years my spouse and I have had a Saturday date-night tradition. The current version of this tradition is that we take turns choosing a surprise date activity to do together at some point on Saturday. Our dates range widely from free to occasionally indulgent, and have included all kinds of things including movies, hikes, museums, food, concerts, art galleries, and even escape rooms. This week it was his turn, and he decided that we were going to go to Powells (the enormous bookstore in Portland) and spend the afternoon browsing books, reading and drinking tea in the rainy windows of their cafe. It was a very sweet way to spend the afternoon.
My favorite part about our tradition is that it avoids the problem of having to agree on something that we both want to do, because the other person usually doesn’t find out what the date is going to be until it’s happening, and therefore can’t argue about it! We’ve noticed that this arrangement also allows us to continue to share our individual interests with each other.
Anyway, this afternoon we found ourselves in the graphic novel section reading a cute manga story about a girl that befriends a giant spider and basically cooks vegetarian meals for it throughout the entire book. The reason I’m telling you this story is that in this comic, there were recipes included, and we became intrigued. Pretty soon, we’d made dinner plans and a grocery list.
So, from Giant Spider and Me, here’s a recipe for Japanese-Style Miso Ratatouille, which I’m sure is an odd English translation of the name of the dish from Japanese.
This recipe is really easy, comforting, and filling. The miso is a great addition that I never would have thought of. Plus, we just really enjoyed the fact that we were cooking from manga. 🙂
- 1 eggplant
- 1 onion
- 2 bell peppers, any color
- 1/2 zucchini
- 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
Condiments & Seasonings
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Tbsp miso paste, any kind will do, brown, red, white etc.
- Chop the eggplant, peppers, and zucchini into large 1″ chunks, about 1 inch, keeping the eggplant separate from the rest of the veggies.
- Heat 3 Tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant pieces and stir. They will absorb the oil fairly quickly, but it shouldn’t stick. Stir fry the eggplant for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.
- Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the minced onion and garlic and stir for a few minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the remaining veggies, including the eggplant and the can of tomatoes. Add the bay leaf also.
- Cover with a lid and simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring often to prevent it from sticking.
- Remove from heat and stir in the tablespoon of miso paste. Miso paste is delicate and shouldn't be added during cooking.
- Remove the bay leaf.
- Divide into 4 servings and accompany with your choice of protein and onigiri rice balls or atop a bed of cooked rice.
- To complete this meal, add a side of stand-alone protein such as steamed edamame, tofu, or tempeh.
- For a grain addition, serve atop a bed of cooked rice or try making onigiri!
In the story, the girl made some rice balls (onigiri) to accompany the ratatouille, on her picnic with the giant spider named Asa, so we made some of those too. They are very easy to make and so tasty!