Friday, September 5, 2008

Easy Ratatouille

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
olive oil
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!


Sarah said...

This looks good, but I am really attached to my favorite slow cooker ratatouille recipe - no need to turn on the oven - and it's grease-free. Check it out here:
Go to page 171.

Sianessa said...

I really want to get a slow cooker. Can you recommend one? Thanks!

foodstuffs said...

They come in two options. One with a timer, and one without.

Also a clear lid is key. I have one without, which sort of sucks cause sometimes you just want it to turn off but you are not there to do so.

But the timer ones are really pricy. You can get them at any large thrift store to try them out. Peopel either love their slowcookers. or never use them, so they are easy to get used.

Contrary to popular theory, I think they are better for veggies than for meat. Best thing for beans EVER. Sarah got me onto to that book. Which like all of her advice is spot on.

Also different sizes, i say get a smaller one to start. The size really does matter cause of the amount of evaporation they say.

Sarah said...

I think my timer one (a hamilton beach from Target) was like $40. I love them so much I actually have two now - and old one from my mom and this new one with the timer. I could have homemade veg broth cooking in one and stew in another. And I love coming home from work to the smell of dinner. If' I'm really clever, I also put my breadmaker on the timer and I can come home to soup and bread.