Ratatouille Over Couscous

I was thinking about the name of my blog, and I was thinking about what really makes a dish Itty Bitty City Kitchen friendly.

And I came up with a few factors.

As the name implies, the kitchen is itty bitty, so dinners need to not need a lot of ingredients. They also need to not require a lot of pans or any fancy gadgets that can’t be stored in said itty bitty kitchen.

Also, as the name implies, this kitchen is in a city, which means that it’s probably in a bustling, crowded area that’s packed with people and noise. It also probably means that work hours are long and by the time you get home, what with the crowds and noise, meal prep has to be fast. And easy. You’re probably tired.

So, with all of that in mind, here is what I think is one of the most itty bitty city kitchen friendly meals, ratatouille. You can vary the ingredients, but think five vegetables and some seasonings. Also, one pot. Also, also, you throw said ingredients into said one pot and just stir it once in a while. Small number of ingredients, one pot, and super fast and easy.

Oh. And Delicious.

Ratatouille is basically a stewed vegetable dish in a tomato base. You can swap out the vegetable and the spices based on your tastes, the season, and what you have on hand, but a can of diced tomatoes is essential.

I used:

  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into one inch chunks
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes

You will also need vegetable oil, salt and pepper. I went slightly Middle Eastern and added turmeric, but you could do herbs de provence, thyme, Italian seasoning, anything really.

This is a throw everything in one pot dish, but you don’t want to throw everything in at the same time. We’re going to layer a bit.

Drizzle some vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the peppers and onions and cook over medium until soft (10-15 minutes).

Add the eggplant, a drizzle more oil, salt and pepper and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

Lastly, add the diced tomatoes, chickpeas and turmeric. Let this cook, covered, for another 10-15 minutes.


This can simmer for longer, but if you’re just home from work and starving because someone did not order lunch for the meeting you had from 12-3, then this is good to go.

This makes a great side dish if you wanted to have some grilled chicken or steak.

Or, if you want to make this the center of the meal, whip up some quick cooking couscous. This is sort of a small kitchen, busy cook staple. Bring water to a boil, pour in couscous, turn off burner, cover, and boom, five minutes later you have couscous.

So, to serve this over couscous, make the couscous and scoop a few spoonfuls into a bowl.


Ladle over your ratatouille.


And then to really bring the Middle Eastern flavor home, add a scoop of Greek yogurt.


This dish is delicious, but the best part about it is that it gets even more delicious as it sits in the fridge.

What’s more itty bitty city kitchen friendly than a one pot dish that serves up two dinners?

Baba Ganoush


I love Greek and Middle Eastern food and I love eggplant.

So baba ganoush is right there in my wheel house.

I order it every time we are out at a Greek or Turkish restaurant, but for some reason I never thought to try making it. It’s funny, meme (husband’s grandmother) always made hummus and yogurt dips, but she never made baba ganoush. I guess because she, master chef, never made it, I assumed it was hard.

It’s essentially a fire-roasted or grilled eggplant puree mixed with tahini.

Well, I hosted Greek Easter this year for the first time, and, ya know, since I didn’t have enough to do what with all the other food, I turned to my husband and said I’m making baba ganoush.

Have I got news for you all: it’s so easy!

No, seriously.

You don’t need a grill or even a stove with gas burners.

All you need:

  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (or more or less to taste)
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • food processor

Preheat your oven to 450.

Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise and then score the flesh with your knife in a cross hatch pattern, not going all the way through to the skin. Drizzle with a little olive oil.


Place cut side down on a foil-lined cookie sheet and place in the oven.


Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the eggplant has basically collapsed.


Let cool then flip it over and scrape out the awesomely roasted eggplant with a fork.


Place the scooped out eggplant into the food processor


And add the tahini, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.



Serve immediately or put it in the fridge to chill. Amazing with veggies or with pita.


Grilled Eggplant

I have been horrible blogger lately. And an equally bad wifey.

I haven’t really been cooking in the last few days – my friend’s band was in a 24 hour battle of the bands (they won!) and work has been crazy! So we’ve been doing the take out thing.

Why is it that food is the first sacrifice we make when things get hectic? It should be the last thing to get the ax. Good food keeps us going. So I’m going to try and be better.

And I’m going to try to give you some really simple and easy recipes in the process, so we both have no excuses.

I’m going to be trying to simplify some of my favorite dishes, or think about how to save time as much as I can. And, as always, churn out dinner in my itty bitty kitchen.

We just recently bought a grill pan. We used it once before when we made our steak fajitas  but since then it’s just been languishing in the cupboard. Hmm. Healthy. Fast. Easy dinner. With the grill pan.

How about some grilled eggplant sandwiches?

I’ve waxed poetically about my mom’s eggplant parm. plenty of times on this blog, but the thing is, it is not itty kitchen friendly (doesn’t stop me from making it) nor is it exactly something you can just whip up. So this is an easier, lighter, healthier, and did I say easier? spin. Also great for vegetarian friends if you’re having a BBQ,

You will need

  • eggplant, peeled and sliced
  • tomatoes, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • mozzarella
  • rolls (we used brioche)

Start by slicing your eggplant into 1/4 inc rounds.



Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on your pre-heated grill pan.


Grill on both sides. Takes about 4 minutes or so a side.


When all your eggplant is grilled, set the slices aside.

Place your rolls on the grill plan and place a slice of mozzarella on the bottom half of each roll.


Add your eggplant


And your tomato


and then carefully remove from the grill and top with the bun.




Eggplant Parm. Baked Ziti

So there’s a dish called Penne Al Forno, which is a baked penne dish with eggplant in it.

But let’s be real. This pile of cheesy, eggplanty, pasta-goodness can masquerade behind a fancy name all it wants. We know the truth. It’s really just an epic mashup of two of our favorites: eggplant parm and baked ziti.

And it is a glorious way to end a rainy, dreary Monday.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/2 box of pasta (penne’s great but I had elbows on hand. Use what you have!)
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • mozzarella
  • parmesan
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.

For this dinner, I used an ovenproof deep skillet so I could cut this down to a 2 pot night. But if you don’t have something that works, you can transfer from a skillet to a baking dish.

No problem.




Drizzle some olive oil in a pot and toss in your eggplant chunks. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.


When the eggplant is browned, add your garlic and the can of diced tomatoes and let the mix simmer away.


Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your pasta.


Add your drained pasta to the pot of eggplant and tomatoes (or transfer to a baking dish)


Toss in some chunks of mozzarella and then give a big stir.


Top with more mozzarella and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.


Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the cheese gets all melty.


Serve up heaping platefuls and enjoy two Italian classics in one.



Portabella Eggplant Stacks


This is a super easy, super light, super healthy dinner that was almost no effort at all.

I love eggplant parm., but boy can it be a process. If you don’t believe me, check it out here. Don’t get me wrong, on a lazy Sunday I have no problem hanging in the kitchen and frying up slices of eggplant.

But on a weeknight I just can’t see coming home from work and spending the time at the stove. Everything has its time and its place and the same is true for food.

So when I saw Giada making eggplant and portabella sandwiches on Food Network, I knew I had found the week night eggplant fix.

I eliminated the sandwich portion and instead made bigger stacks to make this a hearty and filling, yet healthy meal.

There is no frying. And the eggplant and portabella leaves you feeling full and satisfied, even without any meat.

For this recipe you will need

  • 1 eggplant sliced into 1/2 inch thick discs
  • 2 portabella mushrooms, stems removed
  • Italian-seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • flour (for dredging)
  • mozzarella cheese
  • marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 425.

Lay out your veggies.



And set up a dredging station. Flour, Egg, Breadcrumbs. Place a lightly oiled cookie sheet at the end of the assembly line.


Take a piece of eggplant and start by dunking it in the flour


then into the egg


then into the panko bread crumbs


Continue until all of the eggplant slices and the portabellas are coated and lined up on the cookie sheet.


Bake for about 20 minutes.

Plate up the stacks and top them with some mozzarella cheese and some marinara sauce.





Eggplant, Tomatoes, peppers, chickpeas.

I cook with these ingredients a lot.

Sometimes all together. Sometimes in different combinations with some other vegetables thrown in. But they’re pretty standard occupiers of my fridge.

We all go to the market and we all find ourselves coming back with the same things over and over again.

There’s not an infinite number of vegetables in the world. And there’s not an infinite number of foods to be tried.


There are infinite possibilities when it comes to flavors.

Recently I’ve been exploring an aisle in the store I usually shied away from. Instead of picking up the usual salt, pepper and dried basil, I’ve been venturing out with things like coriander and ground ginger.

Mixing spices lets you transform your vegetables. Spices can take eggplant from Italy to Morocco and to your dinner table.

And that’s what I did with this dish. I took my usual suspects of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and chickpeas and tossed them with some new spices. The result? The smoky and complex flavors of the dishes I’ve had in Moroccan restaurants.

For this dish you will need

  • 1 eggplant, peeled and chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon coriander

Drizzle olive oil in a large pot and toss in the eggplant, seasoning with salt and pepper. Let the eggplant cook on its own for a few minutes until it starts to brown. Eggplant is like a sponge, so add more oil if it soak it all up.


Add the peppers and stir, letting them soften a bit.


Next add in the tomatoes. This is a one pot dinner that’s all about layering the flavors. The vegetables cook at different times, so by adding them in throughout the cooking process, each gets the chance to cook through without turning to mush.


Last, add in the chickpeas and the spices. Give the pot a big stir, cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. This is a great dish if your significant other is going to be late because it can just hang on the stove over low heat until everyone is home.


Dish up heaping bowls and top with a scoop of tzatziki.


The noise of the city fades as the spices transport you to a far off village…