Not everyday is meant to be perfect. Every now and then comes a day when I feel like I just want to bury my head in my pillow and disappear. Being strong day after day for yourself is an amazing achievement and having the strength to hold yourself up when the going gets tough isn’t always easy. Sometimes, though, even holding yourself up gets really, really exhausting.
What’s important to remember as the saying goes is, “this to shall pass”. Even an occasional bad day is simply just that, a bad day, not a bad life. As tiring as it can be to pick yourself up over and over again, it can be done. Look at this way, you’ve not only made it this far but you’ve done exactly that, made it THIS far. When the going gets tough and that occasional bad day happens I like to do things that I know will make me happy. Things that not only make me feel better in the moment but ones that remind of my strengths and remind me why I don’t actually end up burying my head in my pillow each day. In my case one of those things would be…wait for it…cooking. I know shocking isn’t it?
Today just so happened to be one of those days when I kept checking out the window to see if there was a dark storm cloud settling over my house. I can confirm there was not. So, knowing that I was up against a not so great moment in life anyway I set out to do what I knew would cheer me up. Recipe testing and getting creative with ingredients always puts a smile on my face (yes, even if it is a recipe fail). The process of creating something not only delicious but beautiful reminds me that I am capable of anything I set my mind to. Even in the midst of feeling like I was going to ball my eyes out into the sink full of freshly washed farmer’s market veggies I decided I’d whip up a dish that for some reason always makes me happy to look at. Maybe it’s the colors, the array of ingredients, the fact that it’s the star of my favorite movie (Ratatouille) or maybe just because it’s one dish I have never tried making before. Whatever the reason was, I decided to let out a few tears for good measure, remind myself with a deep breath that I was strong enough to get through this day and set to work creating my own happiness.
I’d like to believe that I achieved it.
Serves: 4-6/ Prep time: 10 minutes/ Bake time: 45 minutes
- 1 8oz can diced no-salt added tomatoes
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for topping
- 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (additional for garnish if desired)
- 1/4 tsp fresh/dried rosemary
- 1/4 tsp fresh/dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp fresh/dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1 small sweet onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
- 1 large zucchini, sliced (about 2 cups)
- 1 large yellow squash, sliced (about 2 cups)
- 1 small eggplant, sliced (about 2 cups)
- 2 medium vine tomatoes, sliced (about 2 cups)
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 9×9 baking dish and set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, oil, vinegar, garlic and and all of the herbs and spices. Mix well to combine.
- Pour the tomato mixture into the baking dish and using a spoon spread to evenly cover the bottom of the pan.
- Arrange the veggie slices in the pan in an alternating pattern in rows over the sauce. Continue stacking until all the veggies are used or the pan is full (see picture for reference).
- Drizzle olive oil over the top of the veggies, which will help them to brown while baking.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes until sauce is bubbling and the veggies are tender.
- Allow to cool slightly before sprinkling with more chopped basil and serving as a side dish with your favorite meal. For a great accompaniment try it with my Crispy Skillet Chicken!