Friday, September 5, 2008
This dish is so simple to make and requires so few ingredients that it hardly bears the need to write the recipe down. However, there are a couple of reasons why it's helpful to have a guide, and the main one is that cooking eggplant can be a pain in the ass unless you do it right. I suggest par-baking to eliminate cooking time and also to cut down on the grease. Also, traditional recipes call for green bell pepper, but I think that this has too sharp a flavor, and prefer to use red, orange or yellow pepper for a bit more sweetness.
2 small to medium eggplants
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 to a whole red bell pepper
1 shallot, minced
2 - 3 cloves garlic, pushed thru press
1 medium zucchini
14 oz. (1/2 large can) crushed tomato
pinch of rosemary
large handful of fresh basil, shredded
Preheat oven to 375. Slice the eggplant into thin disks. Brush both sides lightly with olive oil, and arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake on middle rack about 20-25 minutes, turning once midway through, until disks are tender and the oil has been absorbed.
While eggplant is baking, slice zucchini into thin coins, then quarter. Dice bell pepper, and halve the grape tomatoes. Mince the shallot and open canned tomato.
In a large, deep saute pan, saute shallot and garlic in about 1 tbsp olive oil until shallot is soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add another tbsp olive oil, then the zucchini, bell pepper and tomatoes. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. By now the eggplant should be done, so take it out of the oven, let cool a couple of minutes, and then cut up the disks into at least quarters, to make smallish, bite-size pieces.
Add eggplant to mixture and saute for about 2 minutes, then add the crushed tomatoes and rosemary. Stir frequently while cooking another 10 minutes. (This is the time to open the wine and pour the first glasses. I recommend a pinot noir, or even a muscly rose, if it's summertime.)
One minute before serving, stir in the shredded basil. You might want to reserve a tiny bit to throw on top when you plate the meal.
I like to serve this with mashed potatoes and roasted fennel. You can use the same cookie sheet for the fennel as you used for the eggplant, and use a little spray oil to keep it from burning. Roast about 15 minutes, and sprinkle a large spoonful over the mashed potatoes, but not on the ratatouille. The fennel and potato work beautifully together, especially if you mash the potatoes with heavy cream and a respectable amount of butter!