Iggy’s Symphony Of Vegetables

For violinist Ignace (Iggy) Jang, the love of French cooking began in his childhood in France. He’s called Honolulu home for close to 20 years. The Hawaii Symphony’s concertmaster, Iggy also is string program director of the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival on the Big Island.

Iggy is staging a revival of his hugely popular tango music concert at the Aloha International Piano Festival June 22 at Hawaii Convention Center.

His revival, “Tango Extravaganza,” promises a fun and energizing night for anyone who loves music – it’s not your typical concert. Joining Iggy onstage is the great tango pianist Alfredo Minetti, plus guest artists from the 2013 festival.

According to Iggy, “Tango music is everything we think it is and more. It’s sensuous, heart-wrenching, exhilarating, addictive. It’s life lived at its fullest, musically speaking.”

To learn more, visit alohapianofestival.com.

While sharing his recipe for Ratatouille NiÇoise, Iggy explained, “The most important thing to me in French cuisine is the balance between acidity and sweetness. Too much acidity and the dish tastes sour; too sweet, and the depth of flavors gets lost.”

Ratatouille dates back to the 1700s in France and is thought to be originally from Nice. It was essentially a vegetable stew made by peasant farmers who used fresh produce, and it consisted of zucchini, tomatoes, red and green peppers, onions and garlic.


Note from Iggy: “I like this dish because it is vegan in itself, goes very well with meat dishes, goes well with baguette and cheese. Even better, all ingredients can be grown in Hawaii and therefore bought from local farmers.”

* 3 tomatoes
* 2 bell peppers
* 2 eggplants
* 3 zucchini
* 1 or 2 onions
* 1 clove garlic
* 1 bouquet garni
(Bouquet garni is thyme, bay leaves and parsley strung together, essential in French cuisine. You may be able to find it ready-made. Search online for images and instructions for how to make it at home.)
* 2 tablespoon olive oil
* salt and pepper, to taste

Peel, remove seeds and chop tomatoes. Peel zucchini, eggplants, cut bell peppers, remove seeds. Peel onions, chop.

Heat pan; brown onions until they turn golden. (Add more onions for more natural sweetness.)

Add tomatoes, stir with wooden spoon until consistency becomes fondue-like.

Add salt and pepper, add minced garlic, zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper and bouquet garni.

Cover pan and simmer for 30 minutes.

Taste and season accordingly.

Too short cooking time and the veggies will be too crunchy; too long, and the texture will be too soupy.

Serve hot or cold. Overnight in the fridge makes for a real tasty and refreshing ratatouille the next day.

Makes four servings.

Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program. heartychef@hotmail.com