This Is Multivitamin's Culinary Equal

Shaw is free-lance writer in Los Angeles

Why are vitamin pills so popular? Why do so many people prefer to swallow a Vitamin C tablet when they could eat an orange, a tomato, a baked potato or a wedge of cantaloupe and get all the Vitamin C they need? To save time? What is time for, if not to savor good food?

It might comfort tablet takers to think of this dish as the culinary equivalent of a multivitamin pill. Tomatoes and green peppers contribute Vitamin C; olive oil adds Vitamin E; there's potassium in the eggplant and essential trace nutrients in the squashes. Serve over brown rice and you'll get niacin and other B vitamins. Top with yogurt or cheese and you'll add calcium and Vitamin D.


1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium eggplant or 4 Japanese eggplants, sliced into rounds, then quartered

1 cup fresh button mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed

1 green pepper, sliced into strips

1 sweet red pepper, sliced into strips

1 sweet yellow pepper, sliced into strips

1 zucchini, sliced

1 summer squash, sliced

4 fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 1/2 cups chopped canned tomatoes, drained

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled, or 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced

2 teaspoons dried basil, crumbled, or 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced

Salt, freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup dry white wine

Hot cooked brown rice or bread

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in large skillet until translucent.

Add eggplant and mushrooms. Saute, stirring, until eggplant is cooked through. Add peppers and continue to cook, stirring, until strips are tender. Add zucchini and squash, then stir to mix with other vegetables.

Add tomatoes and stir again. Add bay leaf, oregano, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to distribute well.

Add white wine. Bring to simmer, then cover and cook over low heat 15 minutes.

Serve over brown rice or accompanied by crusty bread, or refrigerate overnight and serve cold as salad. Makes 4 servings.

Variations: Add any of following or a combination:

1 tablespoon capers

2 tablespoons chopped black olives

Plain yogurt, as topping

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

Poached egg, placed on top of serving

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