Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not Ratatouille's Ratatouille

What a dish! There are 2 reasons I made ratatouille today. The first is because I had it on Monday for lunch at a local restaurant and it was very tasty and the second reason is because I bought the cutest casserole dish today that needed to be used stat!

I had no recipe for this and made it based on my memory of the taste from the version I had on Monday. At first I thought I would add mushrooms but those were never used...one thing I did learn from a French cooking site was to put coarse salt on the eggplant pieces before I used them as it helps them to cook a little better (removes the moisture, I guess).

Do you remember Ratatouille's ratatouille? It was perfectly layered which makes it a lot different than mine! I call this a traditional recipe (except for the addition of goat's cheese) as it is more of a stew. For a good version of a layered ratatouille see Smitten Kitchen's post here http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/07/rat-a-too-ee-for-you-ee/

Ingredients & Preparation:
Serves 4-6
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into chunks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into slices
  • 1 green pepper,cut into slices
  • 1 yellow or red onion, diced
  • 3 small zucchini, chopped into rounds and then halved
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • few swirls of olive oil
  • knob of butter
  • 1 28 oz can organic whole tomatoes
  • 1 28 oz can organic crushed tomatoes
  • 1 5.5 can tomato paste
  • coarse salt for eggplants
  • black pepper to taste
  • goat's cheese to taste
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • handful of fresh basil
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
I tried to use only local organic ingredients for this dish. All the herbs (except the bay leaves) are from my humble, front porch garden.

So, first things first. Chop/slice up your peppers, zucchini, and eggplant. Dice your onion. Put your eggplant in a bowl or colander and put some coarse salt over it. Add some paper towels to soak up the water. Let this sit for about 20-30 mins. In the meantime, cook up the onions and garlic in a frying pan with a few swirls of olive oil and the knob of butter.

You can use fresh tomatoes in this recipe but I'm not sure how to explain that to you since I used canned toms (cheater!). Open up your canned tomatoes and pour the whole ones into a bowl. Press the water out of the whole tomatoes (I used a potato masher) since you don't want your sauce to be too thin.

In a heavy bottom, large pot, add a couple swirls of olive oil. Add your peppers and zucchini and cook for a couple of minutes. Add your eggplant and cook for another couple of minutes. Now add your onions and garlic that you previously sauteed.

Pre-heat your oven to 375F.

Pour the crushed tomatoes and the whole tomatoes into the pot with the other veggies and stir it up. Now add the tomato paste. Add the red wine vinegar. Stir. At this point I add the bay leaves, thyme (just the leaves) and oregano (just the leaves chopped up). Add some pepper to taste. I didn't add any extra salt as the tomatoes had salt added and the eggplant had salt on it already. Let that heat all the way through.

Pour the stew into an oven safe casserole dish. Dot the goat cheese around the stew. I rolled the cheese into little balls and place 6 around the edge and one in the middle. Place the casserole in the centre of the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes.

Once it is ready, add some fresh basil on top. Serve with a great piece of fresh French bread & big glass of wine. Be careful not to serve anyone a bay leaf with their portion!


Anonymous said...

Looks absolutely delicious! ANd I LOOOOOOOVE that casserole!!

Joelen said...

The dish is adorable and that ratatouille looks amazing. Its just about the time for fall foods and this is one I'm hoping to try as the weather gets colder!

Krista said...

This dish looks wonderful! I bet it would be good served over some type of base...noodles, polenta.....mmmm!

bridget said...

looks yummy as usual! R is one lucky boy getting to devour it all. hey, we have an opening here in vancouver for a personal chef if you ever want it, although the pay is not that great...but you'll get all the hugs and kisses you can stand from a 2 year-old!

healthy mamma said...

Looks great! I will try it tomorow for Sunday dinner. I will take your advice and have a glass of wine with it too! ;-)
very cute casserole dish! *envy,sigh...