Ratatouille

For me Ratatouille encompasses all the best that August/September has to offer. It’s delicate essence balances harmoniously with simple grilled or roasted meats. The subtle layers of flavor create a symphony that will make your mouth sing. For those of you who haven’t experienced Ratatouille, I suggest that this be your maiden voyage. The prep work is key, but the cooking is simple!

The recipe that I’ve adapted was found in a Martha Stewart Living magazine around 2006, but the recipe can not be found online… I’ve looked because I thought I lost my clipping. What I love about this recipe is that all the ingredients are roasted or blanched separately before they are combined, which I think adds additional dimensions of flavor. It can be eaten hot or at room temperature  and it is extremely versatile, but be sure not to sure with anything too flavorful as there will be a competition of taste.

The first time I made Ratatouille it was this recipe, but being the novice cook that I was, accompanied it with a wild mushroom risotto. I can remember as if it was yesterday, we were still living in Astoria.  Looking back on it now, I have no idea what I was thinking. The two dishes was so heavy and flavorful, I just felt overloaded. I know better now and reserve this dish for big backyard barbecues because it keeps well in the fridge and is even better the next day or serve the left overs (if there are any) with a simple roast chicken.

Ratatouille Serves 6 – 8

1 lg eggplant, cut into 1inch/ 2.5cm cubes (about 8 cups)
3 – 4 medium zucchini, cut into inch/ 2.5cm cubes (about 8 cups)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 4 tbsp
2 – 3 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves, chopped
6 lb/ 2.5kg tomatoes, blanched & cut into eights
4 bell peppers, 2 red, 2 yellow, roasted, peeled slices lengthwise about 3/4″/2 cm thick

6 cloves of garlic, minced (feel free to adjust quantity to your personal preference)
2 md onions, cut into half moons about 1/2″/ 1.25cm thick
1 large handful of fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 large handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
salt & freshly ground pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400F/205C.

Combine cubed eggplant and zucchini in a large bowl with 1/2 of the thyme and 1/2 cup of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat the vegetables completely.

Roast in the oven, tossing occasionally for about 30 minutes.  You want them to have a bit of golden color but not be charred.  Depending on the size of your oven, you might need to do this in batches.  I have a small European oven, so I needed to do three.  After cooking, the eggplant and zucchini will reduce to less than half, so don’t worry.
In a large dutch oven, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onions and let cook for about 3 minutes till soft, then add the garlic and cook one minute more till fragrant.
Next, add the tomatoes.
And peppers, cook until the tomatoes are soft about 6 – 8 minutes.
Then add the roasted eggplant and zucchini
1/2 of the sliced basil and the rest of the chopped thyme.  Season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasional for about 30 minutes to all the vegetables are soft.
Before serving stir in the parsley and remaining basil, cook for about a minute more to incorporate the herbs and serve.  Will keep for up to three days in the fridge, covered. 
I actually took a lot of time doing a beauty shot for this dish, as I am eager to improve my photography.  I would love your comments and feedback on my journey towards food porn! I posted 11 shots on my Facebook fan page, so become a liker and tell me what you think.
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Author: caseyangelova

Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria www.caseyangelova.com

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