Creatively Transforming Food

Rustic Ratatouille

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Rustic Ratatouille is one of summer’s most savory dishes. Delight in the flavors and celebrate the season’s ending days with a mouthful of memories. I now understand Anton Ego’s jaunt back in time to his childhood reminiscing of the flavorful bowl of ratatouille prepared by his mother one summer evening. (Yeah, I watch Ratatouille regularly for inspiration.) This colorful collection provides an abundance of flavors which  goes well with a crusty bread. I served it with Rosemary Focaccia Bread, accentuating the rosemary flavor in the Rustic Ratatouille.

Ratatouille, a traditional French Provencal vegetable dish, originated in Nice.  It favors the qualities of a savory stew and is the ultimate veggie comfort food! The vegetables used are common in the Mediterranean region. Variations of vegetables and how they are cooked to prepare this dish can be found throughout the multitude of recipes available via the internet. The traditional version is more like the one prepared below. I loved the fresh rosemary, which I have an abundance of,  and thyme used to give all veggies their flavorful aroma from the start. I think I’d probably add more than what’s in the picture below next time as they just mellow me out,. Isn’t that what comfort food should do? I did not add fennel, which I found should be part of the recipe. I will try it out again and adjust statements/recipe here if its impact  is profound…

In French, the verb “touiller” means to stir up, and there’s plenty of that going on when preparing this hearty dish.  Recommendations for serving this vary and are creative in their uses. Note: I have not tried these yet, but can only imagine they are amazing. I love versatility; it makes recipes so much more applicable to today’s style of eating. For example, serve it over pasta and top with shaved cheese of your choice. Or, try serving it over rice or couscous. Use it as a bruschetta topping or puree to make a cold summer soup!  How might you serve it to your family?

Look at this luscious collection of summer vegetables. I highly recommend picking up any of this from your local farmer’s market to help ensure freshness at its best.

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While the eggplant’s bitterness is being sweated out in the colander, prepare the other vegetables.

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Saute the eggplant and squash separately and place in a separate bowl on the side until needed.

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Saute the julienned onions with the herb bundle. Add the peppers; cook as  instructed below.

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Sprinkle garlic and red pepper flakes over vegetables and stir to combine. Add the crushed tomatoes.

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Add the eggplant, squash and gold tomatoes.

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Remove from heat, adjust seasonings to your taste and top with parsley, basil and capers, if desired.

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Rustic Ratatouille

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 pound eggplant, peeled, cut, diced
  • 1½ t. Kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ c. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, hand-crushed
  • 1 pint yellow/gold tomatoes
  • 2 medium zucchinis, sliced into ¼" rounds
  • 2 small yellow squash, sliced into ¼" rounds
  • 2 medium yellow onions, julienned (*see picture)
  • sprigs of rosemary
  • sprigs of thyme
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • ½ t. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ c. basil chiffonade
  • ¼ c. Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 T. capers (optional, but highly recommended)
Instructions
  1. Toss diced eggplant with 1 teaspoon of salt and place in a colander over a bowl for 30 minutes.
  2. Cook eggplant in 2 T. of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Cook squash in 2 T. of extra virgin olive oil until lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from pan and place into bowl with eggplant.
  4. In a small bowl crush, by hand, the 1 pint of grape tomatoes; season with ½ t. of Kosher salt.
  5. Tie rosemary and thyme sprigs together into an herb bundle.
  6. Cut onions pole-to-pole and through the equator. Lie half of the onion flat on a cutting board and slice to reveal julienned-sized onions.
  7. In the same pan, pour the remaining ½ cup of olive oil. On medium-low heat, saute the julienned onions with the rosemary and thyme herb bundle until onions are translucent and slightly golden, about 8 minutes.
  8. Add to the onions, the coarsely chopped bell peppers. Continue to cook on medium-low heat for about 12 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes and sliced garlic over this mixture; stir to combine for about 2 minutes.
  10. Reduce heat to low and add crushed tomatoes. Cook while stirring occasionally until tomatoes are softened, about 8 minutes.
  11. Add eggplant, squash and remaining tomatoes; stir slightly to evenly distribute with the other vegetables.
  12. Adjust seasoning to your preference. (I added about 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt.) Simmer, covered, for about 12 minutes.
  13. Remove from heat. adjust seasonings and remove remnants of herb bundle.
  14. Top with basil chiffonade, parsley and capers, if desired.
  15. Serve in a bowl.

 


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