Ratatouille in 5 Minutes, With Help From Trader Joe’s and No Help From My Cat

Plus, a brief history on the founding of Feeding on Folly…

Recently we dined at Macaroni Grill. I won’t say it’s my favorite Italian restaurant, but their complimentary herb bread is lovely and they know how to grill salmon right.


However this time, not being in a salmon frame of mind, I ordered their Ratatouille instead. Have you tried it? They serve it over grilled polenta, which I find inspired. (I don’t get out much.)

Anyway, the other day at Trader Joe’s, I saw they have polenta and *angels singing* I was inspired! For less than $10, I had all the ingredients needed to make a copycat recipe of Macaroni Grill’s Ratatouille.

And given how I hadn’t shared a recipe with you all in… let’s see… going on a year now? Unsure. It’s been awhile, I know that.

Funny how it used to be such a regular feature of this here blog, and now it’s but a distant memory.

Anyway, I gathered together the ingredients and prepared for the picture. Merricat rushed over to help.

Merricat 1

I swear this cat knows when I’m holding a camera.

Merricat 2

So the main ingredient to look for, the one that makes this recipe so darn easy peasy, is in Trader Joe’s frozen food section. It’s called Misto Alla Griglia, and it contains grilled eggplant, zucchini, and red peppers.

Now of course you could buy fresh eggplant, zucchini and red peppers, or pick them from your garden should you be so lucky, but that would add on extra minutes and then this wouldn’t be 5-minute Ratatouille, would it?

Oh, Merricat walked behind the ingredients! Quick, take a picture!!!

Merricat 3

So now you see what the Misto Alla Griglia looks like. Also, you’ll need their polenta which you slice in thick rounds, and a can of their Organic Tomatoes “diced in tomato sauce”. I already had the fresh basil, onion, garlic, and jar of capers. (You can skip the capers if you don’t like them; I think they add a nice peppery taste.)

Back when I was regularly sharing recipes on this blog, I learned how to write some code so the recipe would appear in a nice little box with its own print button. But I don’t remember the code and I’m too lazy to look it up, so you’re out of luck. Sorry.

Here’s an interesting tidbit: the reason I added recipes when I first started blogging had nothing to do with the name “Feeding on Folly” and everything to do with my insecurities as a writer. I believed that if I didn’t offer something helpful – such as recipes – no one would stick around and read my little stories.

Okay, so you’ll want to let the Misto Alla Griglia thaw a little. The veggies are in large pieces, but they’re easy to chop once they’re partially thawed. While they thaw, chop half the onion and mince three to four garlic cloves. Saute in olive oil until softened.

Merricat monitored the thawing for me.

Merricat 4Once the onion and garlic are softened, add the can of tomatoes, the chopped Misto Alla Griglia, and two tablespoons capers. Add some Italian seasoning — maybe a couple teaspoons? — and salt to taste. Keep over medium heat until hot, a few minutes or so. As it cooks, fry or grill the slices of polenta.

I bet you’re wondering how I came up with Feeding on Folly for my blog name, am I right? Glad you asked.

About the time I was puzzling and puzzling until my puzzler was sore over what to name my blog, I was reading a collection of James Thurber’s essays called Lanterns & Lances. In the forward, he explained his main purpose in writing:

“Much of what follows, therefore, is my own attempt, in my own little corner of the struggle, to throw a few lantern beams here and there. But I also cast a few lances at the people and the ideas that have disturbed me, and I make no apologies for their seriousness.”

I rather liked that. You might say I was inspired. And I was particularly fond of the alliteration with Lanterns & Lances.

Alliteration is something that tantalizes my thoughts and sustains my soul.

I set out to find my own and spent an inordinate amount of time doing so. Eventually, in a moment of happy luck, I landed on Feeding on Folly. Nervously, I did a quick internet search to see if it was taken. It wasn’t, but I found this:

The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly. — Proverbs 15:14 NIV

So there you go. Bible approved.

Also, cat approved.

Merricat 6

To serve (the Ratatouille, not the cat), put two fried slices of polenta on a plate, spoon the ratatouille over them, top with fresh basil and shredded Parmesan if desired and serve with garlic toast.


To recap, I may from time to time, as the mood strikes me, continue to share recipes with you. But as dropping their weekly inclusion hasn’t seemed to adversely affect my readership, and no angry mob has appeared at the Feeding on Folly doorstep, we’ll just let that ship sail.

As for dear Thurber, I don’t know how many lantern beams I’ve thrown and I’m terrible at casting lances, but the folly I’ve witnessed has fed this blog well. Thank you for the inspiration, good sir.

For the record, this Sunday — April 1st — marks my 3rd year blogging.
So there, person who told me I couldn’t do it!

Oh, wait… that was me. 😜

29 thoughts on “Ratatouille in 5 Minutes, With Help From Trader Joe’s and No Help From My Cat

  1. Now, I sit here at 11 o’clock PM when I shouldn’t eat anything but no, I’m now hungry and not just for something simple and light, no, but for Italian food! Lots and lots of it… jc

    But really I second that comment, I read your post for the excellent writing. And happy anniversary… jc

  2. That cat has the greatest expression – somewhere between startled and bewildered which knowing cats is actually a heinous deceit because doubtless he knows exactly what he’s doing! The rat(atouille) looks and sounds super delicious – I happen to have some polenta in the fridge (no word of a lie) and I think Intermarché might come through with the frozen veggies. I was a slave to Trader Joe when living in the States …. I could bankrupt myself in that place. But the really important part of this ramble is to tell you that it is your way with words that keeps me hooked. I am always delighted when I find you in my reader and never fail to pour a cup of something fine and settle to wallowing in something I know I will enjoy. So there.

    1. I think it’s her round eyes that do it, don’t you think? Funny thing about this cat, she takes curiosity to a whole new level. The moment a drawer or cabinet is opened, she rushes over to check out the contents. Even if she fully explored it two hours ago, because it could have changed in the meantime, right?
      Trader Joe’s is hands down my favorite grocery store, as any guest to my house can affirm. I’ve been known to make social media alerts when their lemon curd is back on the shelf, that’s how far my devotion goes (This from someone who never posts anything, even proud mama moments).
      The thought of you finding pleasure as you read my scribbling causes my heart to soar. I shall keep the image with me for when my internal critic shows up and tries to shut me down again. “No, wait,” I’ll cry, “Osyth is waiting for my post to enjoy with her morning tea!” And the stinkin’ critic will be forced to retreat because while she can be a bitch, she’s a bitch who respects tea.

  3. Dearest Feeder of Folly,Recipes – phswh – not into recipes – it is you who feeds my “feed” with your writing that is always interesting, funny and insightful. Keep on keeping on. Here’s to the next 3.

    1. Goodness, how did I miss your lovely comment? Gah, WordPress is trying to make me look more antisocial than I really am!
      Really, Claudette, thank you for the kind words. As always, it means a lot. ❤️

  4. So you are a fellow fan of TJ’s huh? I love that place. The recipe sounds delicious too. I really dig the quote from Thurber about throwing out the lantern beams and casting lances at those people and ideas that disturb me. That’s essentially what I am trying to do with my blog. Great post and pics!

    1. Yet another comment I missed — please believe me, I wasn’t ignoring you!
      Lanterns and Lances are something we can dual up on, don’t you think? I’ll throw a few beams while you pierce them through! 😉

  5. Perhaps Merricat was hoping for Mouse-atouille? Hah! April Fools and here’s to the next three years of Feeding on Folly and the occasional recipe.

  6. Dear Merricat,

    Please tell me more about helping Mommy do cooking. I did not know this could be. My Daddy make me leave when he is in kitchen banging and cursing. This be wrong, because he not very good and I know he can make better things for me, specially if he buy stuff at this Trade Her Joe’s place. It looks fresh and good, even if evil cans I cannot open myself even if I hiss. Ratted Chewy dish sound yum!

    Tell your Mommy yay on being three. I more than three, I think, but know still good being three.


    S.P. Call me!

    1. My dearest Scotch,
      Oh, how I feel for you and your imprisoned soul. Of course you can cook better than your Daddy, and I bet you could put real rat in your ratatouille, which my mommy has rules against so I put it on her pillow instead. (Maybe give this a try with your Daddy? Even if it doesn’t allow you back in kitchen, the noises they make are worth it.)
      Thank you sweetie for the anniversary wishes. I don’t know why she does it myself, but we must allow amusements for our pets, yes?
      Hugs and kisses,

  7. 1) Congrats on year 3. 2) I used the Gmail snooze feature for the first time to bring this article back to my mail box. Then I deleted over 1,000 emails. How cool is that?! 3) Our nearest Trader’s is about 2.5 hours drive from here. I would totally make the drive just to, well, stock my freezer with Trader’s Treats and to try this recipe. I genuinely like this format. Especially Merricat. Can those eyes get bigger?!

    1. 1) Thank you!
      2) I need to research this snooze feature; it sounds fascinating!
      3) Hmm. Two and a half hours, eh? Maybe you can find an audio book to make the trip more interesting, though I’m sure your scenery is splendid too. 🙂
      As to Merricat’s eyes, they are the reason we adopted her. She had us in her spell!

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