Mediterranean Vegetable Stew

I’m not super fond of vegetables. As a kid, I ate so much vegetables and very little meat that I was practically vegetarian. I grew up Catholic so for a week until Easter Sunday arrives there will be no fish, seafood or any other type of animal product. It’s veggies and nothing else, nope, no treats either. Some families even go totally hard core and institute an entire week of fasting.

If I’m not afraid of diabetes, I could care less if I don’t ever see a vegetable again. I realize that they are really good for me. I don’t exactly hate them, hate is such a strong word to describe my relationship with veggies. I mean I enjoy fresh crunchy salads and Indian vegetable curries. I also like the dishes my mom made when I was a kid using the veggies from her garden but those are a bit hard to find here. As my waistline continues to expand at a frightening rate, I really should be eating them more than any other dishes that I’m fond of such as pizza, beef chow fun, ramen and fried chicken. It’s really hard. I don’t know how the Koreans do it. They eat vegetables at just about every meal.

I try to make an effort every now and then. This ratatouille-like dish is proof that I gave it my best. It’s not totally vegetarian but it’s pretty damn close. I would hate to offend the French so let’s call this a Mediterranean vegetable stew instead. Make sure you have lots of crusty bread to mop up the sauce or serve it with citrusy cous-cous.

It’s very easy to make, just a little time consuming because of all the washing, slicing, chopping and cutting involved. Be patient and keep chopping, you’ll be done before you know it.

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  • 1 each of large red and yellow bell peppers
  • 1 medium fennel bulb
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 large Italian eggplant
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 28oz. can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, lightly crushed
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce or 2 pcs. of anchovies, finely chopped (optional)
  • A sprig of rosemary and a small bunch of thyme
  • Zest and juice of half an orange
  • 2 pcs. of bayleaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
  • Chopped basil and Italian parsley for garnish (optional)

Cooking instructions:

  1. Wash and cut all the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
  2. In a large oven-proof pot or pan, heat olive oil and brown onion and garlic.
  3. Add the finely chopped anchovies if you’re using them.
  4. Add all the chopped vegetables and the canned tomatoes.
  5. Add the herbs, season with fish sauce (optional) salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
  6. Do not add water, cover and cook for an hour on medium heat. The vegetables should stay intact but soft enough.
  7. Stir occasionally and check to make sure it doesn’t burn or dry out.
  8. Finish with orange zest and juice. Adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
  9. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and basil and parsley before serving. Bon appetite!
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