Going to Culinary School has always been a dream of mine. Ultimately, I would’ve loved to have gone to the Culinary Institute in Napa, but with 3 kids still in Elementary and Middle School, that wasn’t going to work and I didn’t want to wait another 10 years until they’re off in college to go. So, I’m taking classes at DVC, our local community college. However, it is an ACF (American Culinary Federation) accredited program and the entire kitchen was renovated about 3 years ago, so it’s a very top notch facility.
I am taking classes as they fit in with my kids’ school schedule so that I can keep learning more about cooking technique and ingredients. So far, it has been amazing and I have learned something new everyday. The class I’m in right now is called Fundamentals of Cuisine. It’s basically a Culinary 101 boot camp with a chef who shares a striking resemblance to an American Gordon Ramsey. But, his heart is in the right place and I know he’s tough because he cares and wants people to learn and succeed. We are a class of 30 in a commercial kitchen and we serve breakfast and lunch to the entire university Monday-Thursday.
Each day is a new menu with a different cuisine. We switch stations where we’re working in the kitchen every 2 weeks, so we get a great taste of all areas of prep, cooking and equipment. The first 2 weeks, I was in butchery which was fun, but no cooking yet. Now, our team has moved to Entremetier. We prep and cook the vegetables, rice, potatoes…all of the non-meat items. Yesterday was our French Cuisine day. I made the Potatoes au Gratin and I swear it must have been like 500 lbs! Well, not really but huge quantities of everything! This has been great for me, because although I have extensive cooking at home experience or for dinner parties, this is teaching me how to cook for larger audiences.
I was inspired to make the Ratatouille recipe we made yesterday, with a few tweaks of my own with a couple of different ingredients. I didn’t have eggplant and honestly, I’m not a huge fan but it’s usually included. It was something that I’ve always thought of making but just never got around to. I learned that just because it has a French name, there’s no need to be intimidated, it’s super easy and very tasty. I served it with a grilled chicken breast to keep it light and healthy, but you could also serve it with a fish or pork tenderloin. Ratatouille is also great if you have a bunch of veggies in the fridge that need using up or after a trip to the Farmer’s Market…Bon Apetit!
This Ratatouille is light, delicious and so easy to prepare. Next time you're looking for a healthy, tasty vegetable side, this is it!
- 2 Tablespoons EVOO
- 1 Yellow Onion Chopped
- 2 Zucchini Cut into 1" on a bias
- 4 Summer Squash Cut into 1" chunks
- 1 Red Bell Pepper Cut into 1" chunks
- Kosher Salt & Pepper
- 1 28 oz. Can Whole San Marzano Tomatoes Drained and Chopped into 1" chunks
- 2 Garlic Cloves Minced
- 3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinengar
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil Julienned
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley Garnish
- Chop all vegetables. Heat about 2 Tablespoons of EVOO in a large pan or wok.
- Cook all vegetables, adding one at a time. Add salt and pepper and more EVOO as you go. Start with the onions, zucchini, squash and then the peppers and tomatoes. Add in the minced garlic, fresh thyme sprigs and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Add in a splash of red wine vinegar, check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Toss with fresh basil and stir to combine. Turn the heat, top with fresh chopped parsley off and serve!