I’m back from a business jaunt from Houston to Philadelphia and back again; it’s a welcome relief to return to my cozy office, the warmer Texas temperature, and home-cooked food.
Delicious food was involved for the business part (I wish I could spill the beans, but apologies, I cannot), but the business didn’t involve meals. And it’s those meals on the road that turn my stomach after more than a day. I pledge here to pack better snacks and be more adventurous on future trips (i.e., there is more to business travel than my in-room dining Caesar salads and yogurt).
I did have one food adventure, if you can call it that, on my trip home. I tend to take ridiculously early flights (think 5:40 am) for reasons so that my whole day isn’t eaten up by travel (it’s another two-hours in the car once I land in Houston). I took a slightly later flight (6:30 am) coming home from Philly this time around, and was hoping that more restaurants would be open (namely the brand spanking new new Peet’s coffee–my hometown brew has a home in the newly renovated Philly airport), but sadly no.
The only outlet open before 6 am was Dunkin Donuts. It wasn’t altogether disappointing; I did my undergraduate degree just outside of Philly, so the double D has some late-night nostalgia (munchkins–their brand name for donut holes–are especially scrumptious).
But rather than ordering a classic plain donut or glazed cruller to accompany my extra-large coffee, I fell prey to the advertising for their new egg-white flatbread. I like eggs. I like flatbread. I like green onions, mushrooms, and cheese.
I do not like Dunkin Donuts flatbread. If I had wanted to chew gum, I’d have opted for Juicy Fruit or mint, not egg.
In a word, it’s just plain yucky, bizarrely flavored in a way that I could not put my finger on, and after a few bites, did not want to put my tongue upon, either. I hate to waste food (even more so when I’m hungry), but into the trash it went, without regret.
But enough bad taste, on to deliciousness. I did not have to stretch my imagination far. Once inside the city limits, I stopped at the local Kroger for a an eggplant, zucchini, and a tin of of fire-roasted tomatoes. For dinner? A quick ratatouille with added chickpeas for protein.
Ratatouille is a late summer dish, best with season-end tomatoes, garden-grown squash, and fresh herbs. But I was not aiming for best; I was aiming for darn good, and my quick & easy ratatouille is just that. And to make up for the fresh factor, a gently set golden yolk gilds all in frugal, yet fabulous flavor.
I scraped my plate clean, and said my silent hallelujahs for both home and home cooked meals.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium eggplant, end trimmed, cut into small cubes
- 2 medium zucchini, trimmed and diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, seeds removed, chopped
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained (preferably fire-roasted)
- 1 15ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 teaspoon each dried basil and dried oregano
- Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onion; cook and stir for 2-3 minutes until softened.
- Add garlic and stir for 1 minute, then add eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 2 minutes.
- Add zucchini, pepper, tomatoes (with their juices), chickpeas, basil and oregano. Simmer for 10 minutes until all vegetables are soft (but not mush).
- Season ratatouille with salt and freshly ground pepper (very important), divide ratatouille between 4 plates.
- Category: Main Dish