Saturday, August 25, 2012
This is a another great dish to celebrate summer vegetables at their peak, specifically eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes, the triple-play foundation of this classic French staple, which often includes a mix of herbs, garlic, onion, and potentially other things. It's pretty versatile that way.
Even the cooking method may vary. Is it oven or stovetop? All ingredients separately or all together?
I contemplating making my ratatouille as a roasted dish, but ultimately opted for stovetop because it is faster. Although I didn't cook the vegetables separately, I did cook them in stages, adding the vegetables that need to cook longer first (the eggplant, in particular) and those that need less cooking last (like the tomatoes). This is an approach favored by Mark Bittman who, as usual, seems to know what he's talking about.
Ratatouille by itself makes an excellent side dish or, if topping a pile of rice or pasta, a main dish. I served mine over some buttered brown rice.
Adapted from The Minimalist: Easy Ratatouille by Mark Bittman
1 1/2 to 2 pounds of eggplant (two eggplants on the smallish side), tops cut off, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium or 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
2 green zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch half-rounds
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 large tomatoes (regular red variety), diced
Fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
3 cups cooked, buttered brown or white rice or pasta (optional--suggested for serving as a main dish)
1. Add cubed eggplant to a colander set over a bowl (or in the sink). Sprinkle with salt, mix well and let sit for about 30 minutes. Rinse well.
2. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan or steep-sided sauté pan. Add eggplant, and saute until it softens and turns a golden color, about 20 minutes. Add onion and zucchini; sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; sauté another minute. Add the tomatoes and cook another few minutes until they soften. Season to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper. Serve over rice or pasta as as main dish or by itself as a side dish, topped by fresh basil.