Wednesday morning my phone rang…
I ran behind the ambulance into the hospital’s loading bay.
“You’re not allowed in here.”
“You’ve got my father”
There was no time to argue.
I followed the paramedics, as they wheeled Dad’s lifeless body to triage. He was strapped, on his side, to a board.
I couldn’t ask the question. If I didn’t ask, he couldn’t be. As we entered the hospital, I saw his boot move. He was alive.
For the next four hours, I watched and waited, as nurses, doctors and surgeons cut away his clothes, sedated him and assessed the damage.
Four hours of fighting to keep from imagining a world without him. Nauseating, hypothetical thoughts that, on this day, were possible.
No paralysis. A cracked pelvis, five cracked vertebra, four broken ribs. A long journey ahead.
Every horrible, miserable, imagined senario was replaced with Dad making a complete recovery.
My WINTER RATATOUILLE is a simple winter vegetable stew, oven roasted then braised. I added the lovely french lentils for substance and depth; basically to replace meat. Eat it cold, warm or right out of the oven with a sprinkle of crumbled feta for a nutritious vegetarian supper.
WINTER RATATOUILLE WITH FRENCH DE PUY LENTILLES by michelle hooton
Preheat oven 400*F
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1” pieces
1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
½ small turnip, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
10 baby red potatoes, washed and halved
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely
4 ounces sugar snap peas, stem end trimmed
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 – 398 ml can of diced Italian plum tomatoes in puree
1 teaspoon ground oregano
3 dried bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup French de puy lentilles
1½ cups water
Feta, to garnish
- Drizzle half of the olive oil over the bottom of a large casserole.
- Add the butternut squash, parsnip, turnip, baby potatoes and garlic.
- Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the vegetables.
- Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper then place the casserole dish in the oven, uncovered on the bottom rack.
- Roast the vegetables for 25 minutes – the bottoms should be nicely caramelized!
- Remove the casserole dish from the oven.
- Sprinkle the roasted vegetables with the oregano then pour the sugar snap peas and tomatoes over the top.
- Fill the empty tomato can ½ way up with water then pour over everything.
- Cover the ratatouille with aluminium foil and place back in the oven for 20 minutes.
- While the ratatouille finishes in the oven, prepare the lentils following the directions on the packaging.
- After removing the ratatouille from the oven, add the cooked lentils and toss gently.
- Serve with a sprinkle of crumbled feta.
THE LOVE: The magic to this dish is the double cooking technique for the vegetables. Make sure your veggies are nice and brown on the bottom after the initial roasting. This will ensure a delicious sauce when you add the liquid.
Thanks for reading.
Photography by Michelle Hooton.