Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Perfect Ratatouille Recipe

Yes, I know, gross! But it is so, so good when you use the end of summer produce. Ratatouille gets a bad rap, because if you make it with unripe tomatoes and store bought old eggplant and tasteless zucchini, then is not good. It’s really a textural thing when it’s made out of season. It all turns to mush. But with veggies that are in season that are not overcooked it can be absolutely fabulous and tasty and above all have a great texture. You can play with this recipe. If you have a spicy chili, capers, some cilantro, or even a sprig of rosemary, throw it in. I use the recipe as a guideline. I alter the flavors with what I have on hand. I love to serve it as a starter with toasted, thinly sliced baguette, some nice cheeses, Marcona almonds and oil cured olives, and of coarse a beautiful red wine. In my house ratatouille marks the end of summer. It’s a happy, but sad time. I hate the heat, but love all of the gorgeous produce it brings us. I will miss the beautiful heirlooms, but cant wait to start roasted butternut squash with fried sage leaves. I will be so sad to see all of the stone fruit and grapes go bye bye, but will welcome turnips, beets, rutabagas and all of the lovely root vegetables with open arms. So eat up your late summer produce. It’s coming to an end soon. Embrace the last sweet melons; they are almost gone for another year. Order new fresh tins of cinnamon and cloves, nutmeg and allspice for the apple pies and pear galletes that are right around the corner!

Classic Ratatouille
By: Julia Childs

1/2 pound eggplant
1/2 pound zucchini
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
6 to 7 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 to 2 green bell peppers, seeded and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground pepper
2 large, firm ripe tomatoes
3 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
Peel eggplant, cut off stem and cut lengthwise
into 3x1x1-inch slices. Trim off zucchini ends.
Cut into slices about the same size as the
eggplant. Place vegetable slices in a large non-
aluminum bowl (glass or plastic are fine). Toss
with 1 teaspoon salt; let stand 30 minutes. Drain
and pat slices dry on paper towels.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over
medium-high heat. Cook eggplant and zucchini
slices in batches until lightly browned, about 1
minute per side, adding more olive oil as needed.
Set vegetables aside.
Cook onions and bell peppers in same skillet in
2 to 3 tablespoons oil until tender but not
browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and
season with salt and pepper to taste.
Peel tomatoes while onions and pepper cook by
dipping in boiling water, then in ice water to
loosen the skins. (Or use a serrated-edge
peeler.) Cut out tomato stems, cut tomatoes in
half and squeeze out the seeds and excess juice.
Slice tomato pulp into 1/2-inch strips. Lay
tomato strips over the onion and peppers in the
skillet. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover skillet; cook over medium-low heat until
tomatoes begin to render juice, about 5 minutes.
Uncover and baste tomatoes with cooking juices.
Increase heat; boil until juice has almost
evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Place 1/3 of the tomato/onion mixture in a
heavy Dutch oven or heavy casserole. Sprinkle
with 1 tablespoon parsley. Arrange 1/2 of the
eggplant and zucchini on top. Top with 1/2 of the
remaining tomato mixture and parsley. Top with
the remaining eggplant and zucchini slices.
Finish with remaining tomato mixture and
Cover and simmer over low heat 10 minutes.
Uncover, tip casserole and baste with rendered
juices. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Increase
heat slightly. Cook, uncovered, until juices have
evaporated, about 15 minutes. Stir often to keep
vegetables from scorching on the bottom. Serve
hot, at room temperature or cold.
Makes 8 servings
Adapted from ``Mastering the Art of French
Cooking,'' written by Julia Child, Simone Beck and
Louisette Bertholle.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE ratatouille and just made some two weeks ago, though I like to roast the eggplant first. It's one of those childhood comfort foods that my mom used to make and with such fresh, gorgeous veggies, it's even better.