This Level 6: Soft & Bite-Size Spanish-Inspired Ratatouille will be a crowd pleaser! It fits perfectly into a dysphagia diet, but everyone at your party will love it!
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Eating through Spain
When testing a soft and bite sized meal, make sure you use the fork pressure test. If you’re new to making soft and bite sized meals and you’re a little uncertain about the process, you can find a more detailed description here.
Before my senior year of college, I studied abroad in Spain for four months. I had done a lot of research prior to leaving, but I truly wasn’t expecting everything Southern Spain had to offer. I lived in Sevilla, which is the capital of Andalucia. I ate my way through Spanish cuisine (and gained thirty pounds in the process), eating everything from salmorejo, to espinacas con garbanzo, to jamon iberico by the pound.
When I was there, I stayed with a host family who welcomed me with open arms. My host dad, Marcos, was the most amazing cook. They had a tiny kitchen, but the food had the biggest and boldest flavor you could imagine. I still think about his cooking to this day, years after I left. This recipe is based on something he made frequently called pisto.
Pisto is more commonly known in the United States as ratatouille. However, I somewhat combined the two ideas to create my own version. This recipe may seem daunting at first because of the long cook time, but a majority of that time is inactive and you can focus on other things.
One of the most important things to ensure is that you let the eggplant rest. It’s so important to peel and chop the eggplant and then let it sit in a colander with salt. This will help the eggplant to release some of its bitterness when you’re cooking it.
For the soft and bite sized version of this recipe, make sure you’re chopping the vegetables into 1 ½ cm pieces. This will be a time-consuming process, but it’s easier to do it before the vegetables are cooked. It’s essentially impossible to do after the fact.
Level 6: Soft & Bite-Sized
Level 6: Soft & Bite-Sized is appropriate for individuals who have good tongue control and force and can manage chewing. At this level, the size of each bite is predetermined, and can be appropriate for individuals with some pain or difficulty chewing, or those who may not choose appropriate bite sizes without help.
Food pieces can be no larger than 15mm square for adults or 8mm square for children. Foods must have no separate thin liquid, but should be soft and moist. The pressure from a fork or spoon must be able to mash the pieces easily; this is called the Fork Pressure or Spoon Pressure Test. In these tests, the utensil must be able to easily cut through or break apart the food using only the side of the utensil. When mashing the sample to test, only use as much pressure as causes your thumbnail or fingernail to blanche white. After mashing, the food must not return to its original shape. We recommend watching IDDSI’s Youtube video of the Fork Pressure and Spoon Pressure Test before you cook as well as during the testing of your final modified portion.
Always test your food before serving to ensure that it meets all the IDDSI testing guidelines.
How to finish Level 6: Soft & Bite-Size Spanish-Inspired Ratatouille
When I eat this, I finish it with a soft baked egg, manchego cheese, and parsley. There’s absolutely no reason you couldn’t add this into your finished product! Just make sure that everything is the appropriate size for this diet. The egg yolk would give a level of velvety-ness, and the manchego would give a nice saltiness to finish. If you’re vegan, feel free to leave it out! The finished recipe doesn’t call for it, but just know that it’s a wonderful option. 🙂
I hope you eat this pisto/ratatouille and pretend you’re basking in the sweltering, Southern Spain heat. I hope you feel comforted and wholesome, just like I do every time I eat this recipe.
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Level 6: Soft & Bite-Sized Spanish-Inspired Ratatouille
- 2 medium eggplants chopped into 1.5 cm pieces
- 3 bell peppers either red, orange, or yellow (or a combination), chopped into 1.5 cm pieces
- 2 medium zucchini chopped into 1.5 cm pieces
- 1 large onion diced into 1.5 cm pieces
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste
- 48 ounces canned whole tomatoes
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tbsp dried
- 4 tablespoon basil chiffonade
- 3 tablespoon parsley chopped
- Olive oil for sauteing vegetables
- Peel and chop eggplant and place in a colander in the sink. Season generously with salt and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, chop the peppers, zucchini, and onion into 1.5 cm pieces. Mince garlic and set aside.
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil.
- Use a paper towel to remove excess liquid from the eggplant. Add to dutch oven with the olive oil. Season with pepper.
- Cook eggplant until lightly browned and softened. Remove eggplant from dutch oven and set aside.
- Add more olive oil to the dutch oven. Then add peppers, zucchini, and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, ~7 minutes. Remove from dutch oven and set aside.
- Add olive oil to dutch oven again. Add tomato paste and garlic, cook until the color of tomato paste has darkened and garlic is beginning to brown.
- Add tomatoes and herbs and bring to a boil. Crush tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat and then add the eggplant, peppers, zucchini, and onion. Cover and let simmer for ~1 hour until almost all liquid has evaporated.
- Once all liquid has evaporated, it’s ready to serve. Ensure that there is no excess liquid once it’s plated. If there is, remove with a paper towel.