Ratatouille

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I was a fan of ratatouille long before the Pixar movie about the French culinary inclined rat made this classic vegetable dish a common household word. Bursting with fresh vegetables ratatouille is hearty enough to be served on its own as a stew yet tastes equally good when served alongside grilled meat. Ratatouille is the perfect way to use your fresh vegetables when your garden or farm share is out of control (I’m looking at you zucchini) but I also find it incredibly comforting during cold winter months. This recipes comes from Epicurious but I think of it more as a method than an exact formula. If I have plenty of eggplant or zucchini on hand I will use more of that; sometimes I will use a single variety of bell pepper while other times I will add a rainbow of them. It all depends upon what I have on hand and what looks good. Regardless of what formula or combination you use, you just can’t go wrong. And as tasty as this dish is when it is first cooked, it tastes even better when reheat the next day.

RATATOUILLE

2 1/2 lb tomatoes

8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

20 fresh basil leaves, torn in half

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 lb eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 large onions, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

4 assorted bell peppers,cut into 1-inch pieces

4 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick pieces

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • Set a large pot filled with water over high heat.
  • Cut an X in bottom of each tomato with a sharp paring knife and when your water boils, blanch the tomatoes for 1 minute.
  • Transfer tomatoes with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, peel off skin, beginning from scored end, with paring knife.
  • Coarsely chop the tomatoes and transfer to a 5-quart heavy pot along with the garlic, parsley, basil and 1/3 cup oil.
  • Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and sauce is slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.
  • While sauce is simmering, toss the eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large colander and let stand in sink 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook the onions in 3 tablespoons oil with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Transfer the onions with a slotted spoon to a large bowl, then add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and cook the bell peppers with 1/4 teaspoon salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the peppers with a slotted spoon to bowl with onions.
  • Add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and cook the zucchini with 1/4 teaspoon salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Transfer the zucchini with a slotted spoon to bowl with other vegetables.
  • While zucchini are cooking, pat eggplant dry with paper towels. Add remaining oil to the skillet and cook the eggplant over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to12 minutes.
  • Add the vegetables, remaining teaspoon salt, and black pepper to tomato sauce and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 1 hour.
  • Cool, uncovered, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8-10

 

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