August 31, 2016 4

No-Recipe Late Summer Ratatouille + scenes from aeries resort!

No-Recipe Late Summer Ratatouille | @withfoodandlove

A few weeks ago I took a trip about 40 miles north to Aeries Resort with my friend Meghan and our guys. Aeries is located in the small town of Grafton, IL. Sitting atop a hill overlooking the majestic Mississippi River with views so magical you’ll never want to leave. Actually Aeries touts them as, “The Best Views In The Midwest”.

And at this point, I don’t beg to differ.

The four of us spent our time together laughing and eating and gawking over the sun each night as it set in all the right pink and purple hues. Drinking too much wine, good wine, really good wine. Some of the best local wine I’ve ever had. And, flying through the forest on ziplines like we were teenagers naive of our own mortality.

As a native east coaster, the Midwest is all new territory to me.

No-Recipe Late Summer Ratatouille | @withfoodandlove

No-Recipe Late Summer Ratatouille | @withfoodandlove

No-Recipe Late Summer Ratatouille | @withfoodandlove

No-Recipe Late Summer Ratatouille | @withfoodandlove

And with each road trip I take, I developer a deeper appreciation for this part of the country. The sights, the people, and the goods and produce it yields. As we drove back to the city the roads were flecked with produce stands. Each one brimming with tomatoes and zucchini, summer squash and peppers, eggplants and melons, peaches and cucumbers, sweet corn and so forth.

A Midwest summer explosion, really.

It reminded me of why I love to cook. Taking what’s available and turning it into something nourishing with little effort and, with no-recipe. This late summer ratatouille – has been on repeat over here. It’s the perfect end of August, beginning of September comfort food. It gives you that cozy, all snuggled up, eating out of a bowl feeling. But, it’s one hundred percent compromised of what’s in season, right now. What your markets is overflowing of. What is spilling out of your garden.

I know we’re all craving cooler air, a seasonal switch. I also want to stop sweating 24/7. I feel like this a good place to start though. A compromise of sorts. You know?





Below is a basic formula to prepare ratatouille. It combines onions, garlic, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and fresh herbs. You can sub a multitude of vegetables and varieties and aromatics. It works with whatever you have on hand. Also it’s ready in 20 minutes, so what’s not to love?

Ways to enjoy late summer ratatouille.

In a bowl with a spoon.

With a big glass of red {or white} wine.

Over pasta with vegan parm.

Folded into eggs for a veg omelette or scramble.

Piled onto a baked potato, or sweet potato.

Mixed into beans or lentils.

Simmered with broth and slurped down like soup.

And any other uncomplicated ways that feel unfussy and comfortable.





No-Recipe Late Summer Ratatouille

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Serves 4 portions

Use this no-recipe recipe as your base. Experiment and make it your own and then make it over and over again as you wish. Feel free to substitute in any vegetables and herbs you wish. At the bottom I've added some notes to give you an idea of how flexible this is.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 2 cups eggplant, diced medium
  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced medium
  • 2 cups zucchini, diced medium
  • 1 cup bell peppers, diced medium
  • handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • sea salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste


  1. In a large sauce pan heat the olive oil and onion over low, and sweat for 5 minutes.
  2. Then add in the garlic, and sweat for 1 minute more. Turn the heat up to medium and add in the lemon juice. Scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Next add in water and the eggplant, and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the eggplant is almost fully cooked. Add in the tomatoes, zucchini and bell peppers. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add in the basil, stir and remove from the heat.

Recipe Notes

For lemon juice: white wine, or other acid
For tomatoes: any combination and variety of heirlooms, cherry, sungolds, etc.
For zucchini: any zucchini or summer squash variety
For bell peppers: any variety or color
For herbs: any combination and variety of fresh basil, oregano, thyme and/or parsley

The post is in partnership with Aeries Resort; all opinions are my own.

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4 Responses to "No-Recipe Late Summer Ratatouille + scenes from aeries resort!"

  1. Reply


    September 1, 2016 at 4:43 PM

    What an absolutely refreshing trip — wine + a little youthful thrill-seeking? I can think of few things better. And then there’s this ratatouille – simple, beautiful and completely beckoning. Love it all.

  2. Reply


    September 2, 2016 at 11:22 PM

    Thank you so much for the detailed list on how to use ratatouille. It inspires me to see that I can have more concrete uses for it. Your writing style is inspiring as well. Thank you for following your passion and sharing with the world!

  3. Reply

    Jayme | holly & flora

    September 6, 2016 at 11:20 PM

    I love seeing what St. Louis looks like this time of year. Being around the Mississippi must have been so soothing. I know there is nothing like the expanse of the ocean, but I will take any moment I can get around bodies of water. So restorative. And zip-lining!!?? I’ve been dying to do some zip-lining up in the mountains. There is a zip-lining trail along I-70 now, near Idaho Springs. We will have to do that together one day! Sorry we didn’t connect on your latest trip. I’m so happy you got away, though. LOVE!!!

  4. Reply


    September 10, 2016 at 7:33 AM

    This looks like the perfect recipe to culminate summer, and use up all the beautiful produce that’s been overflowing at the market these days. Looking forward to giving this one a go.

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With Food + Love © 2018 | All photos + words belong to Sherrie Castellano -- they cannot be used or distributed without permission.