summer squash

Food Friday: Flavourful & Hearty Ratatouille

We still have a little left of summer to suck up in Halifax, NS, however the fall air has definitely arrived! If you haven’t gotten enough of the summer veggies, i.e. zucchini, tomatoes and fresh basil, look no further. This is a great veggie packed meal that tastes fresh and is very satisfying. It is a great transition meal from summer to fall as it uses the summer veggies yet is warming. If you know me I love my hearty stews so this was right up my alley. Sarah Britton’s website is a wonderful site full of beautiful food photos that always make your mouth water. Her meals are hearty and only some can be a little more complicated. I was introduced to her during a retreat at Windhorse Farm probably 2 years ago when someone recommended her “life changing loaf of bread.” Now this bread is not fluffy but instead very hearty and great with either peanut butter, hummus or tomato and avocado. Delicious in my book.

Ratatouille sounds a little fancy to me but when it is deconstructed like this you can’t go wrong. So do you have any leftover zucchini, maybe even those huge ones you find at the farmers market? Or are you wanting to try eggplant but worried about it being too soggy? Fear not as these veggies are grilled (or gently fried in my cast iron pan in my case) to firm them up a little. I have adapted the recipe to half the size and replaced a few things that are harder to find. The original link is at the bottom. 

Flavourful Deconstructed Ratatouille

Ingredients: (serves 3-4)

  • 3/4 cup cooked green lentils (1/4-1/2 cup dried)
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 3-4 mixed large tomatoes (whatever is at the market)
  • 1 14oz can whole tomatoes
  • 2 slices lemon
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 large eggplant
  • 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper
  • 1 small green zucchini
  • 1/2 small yellow zucchini
  • generous handful fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tbsp or so fresh oregano leaves
  • 4 springs fresh thyme (or to taste)
  • extra-virgin olive oil for garnish


  1. To cook lentils, if possible soak overnight or for up to 12 hours. Drain, rinse and place in a pot and cover with about 2 inches / 5cm fresh, cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until tender – about 10-15 minutes if you’ve soaked them, or about 20 minutes if un-soaked. Drain any excess water and set aside.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, prepare the ratatouille base: slice the onion into thick rings and add them to a large saucepan with the coconut oil and salt over med-low heat. Once the oil has melted, stir to coat the onions and them let cook, stirring occasionally until the onions have lightly caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Mince the garlic and add it to the onions, cook for a couple minutes until fragrant. Add the canned tomatoes and use the back of a large spoon to crush them up a little.
  3. Roughly chop the large tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, leaving a few of the cherry tomatoes whole. Add all of the tomatoes to the pot and stir to combine. Add the lemon slices and balsamic vinegar, bring to a low simmer and cook covered while you grill the vegetables.
  4. Preheat your cast iron pan to med-high heat. Slice the eggplant and zucchini into rounds or halves and slice the peppers in long slices.  Add in batches to pan, slightly spread out, and cook covered for 5 minutes. Saute/flip veggies and continue cooking for 5 or so minutes more until they are tender but not mushy and some browned. (Alternatively preheat grill to med-high heat. Place veggies on the grill and close the lid. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the underside has slight grill marks then flip and continue to grill until the veggies are tender but not mushy.)
  5. Add the grilled vegetables to the pot along with the lentils, basil, oregano and thyme. Taste and add salt and freshly cracked black pepper to suit your taste. Stir well, bring to a simmer and let cook for about five minutes. Divide ratatouille among bowls. Drizzle generously with olive oil, garnish with basil, and serve hot. Sarah Britton recommends a slice of crusty bread but maybe try her life changing loaf! 

Enjoy and remember to tell me what you think in the comments below! 😃


In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen


(Photo credit: - original recipe) 

Food Friday: Creamy Simple Zucchini & Leek Soup

Zucchini galore! This soup takes full advantage of all the beautiful summer zucchini available now. This soup is super simple, yet so delicious and actually from Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook. A good blender is helpful to ensure it is nice and creamy, even without having to add milk or coconut milk. Serve this on its own for a light meal on a hot day, as a appetizer or along side some grilled chicken and salad. Yum!

Zucchini is part of the summer squash family, along with yellow zucchini and patty pan squash. These are rich in antioxidants including vitamin C and manganese, as well as carotenoids especially good for the eyes. It provides 2.5 grams of fibre per cup and rich in nutrients to help control blood sugar. It is best to eat the entire squash including the skin and seeds, therefore it is best to buy your zucchini from the farmers market or organic. 


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large or 4 small leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into 1/8-in half-moons
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • a pinch of child flakes


  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and leeks over medium heat and sauté, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, or until soft.
  2. Add the garlic, zucchini, salt and chilli flakes, cover the pan, and steam over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the zucchini is just tender.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a high-powered blender with 2 cups water and blend until very smooth. Taste for seasoning and serve hot or cold. 

I have eaten this both hot and cold and both ways are delicious! 

Let me know what you think. 

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen

(Photo credit: