Today I made the Ratatouille recipe that I shared yesterday. I wrote that I would have to make a shopping trip for it, because I had some basic ingredients in my kitchen but not everything. I went to the new Walmart that has opened next to Costco off the Kino Parkway in Tucson.
In their grocery department I found everything I was looking for except thyme. Their little display of fresh herbs was almost completely depleted, so I had to use dried thyme that I have here at home.
Other than that, I bought zucchini, yellow squash, three colors of peppers, a can of petite diced tomatoes, an eggplant, fresh rosemary and bay leaves, and vegetable stock. I had a choice of either concentrated vegetable stock or a rather large box of it, and I chose the boxed veggie stock because I didn't like the ingredients in the concentrate. The total for this purchase was $22.08 before taxes, so I wouldn't plan on making this every week.
It came out so well, though, that I would definitely make it for guests or to take for a potluck dinner at church. I followed the recipe exactly, using canned tomatoes for the sake of simplicity. I also peeled the eggplant, which I always do because I dislike the peel.
I can tell you two things about the last part of the process. After you have braised the veggies in the oven for half an hour and you begin to drain off the juice and cook it down to a glaze, it will take about half an hour to do it. DO NOT leave it alone on the stove and go do something else. It may seem tedious, but if you come back and find a brown film (or worse, a burned black film) coating the bottom of you Dutch oven, trust me, it's ruined. That's a bad way to lose the money.
In case you are wondering, that did not happen to me because I did not abandon the juices on top of the stove. I had my favorite afternoon radio program turned up so that I could hear it in the kitchen and I hung in there. The result was exactly what the recipe predicted: melting, rich vegetables (a lotta bell peppers, though) in a tasty glaze, absolutely able to stand on its own for my meat-free dinner.
The next time I make Ratatouille, though, I am going to cut out part of the green bell peppers and substitute sliced carrots for an added flavor. But if I had not done it according to the recipe I couldn't discuss the costs, so I followed my own recommendation.
So if you are going to try Ratatouille, expect to spend about twenty bucks on ingredients, and perhaps you might want to shop in advance for it by picking up things like fresh herbs when you see them, as they might not be there when you actually need them. Fortunately the ingredients in Ratatouille are easy to find at a good supermarket like Safeway or Fry's, where I have seen them almost every time I go there.
And if you want to make your own Tomato Sauce, use Laura Calder's recipe that came from her excellent program French Food at Home. You can find her on the Internet and get the recipe, which calls for tomatoes, seasoning, glass jars and a canning kettle. I mean it is easy.
For more info: visit Laura's own web page here: http://www.lauracalder.com/