All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2017

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

not Julia's ratatouille


Summer is coming to a close - time to stack the wood , make peach preserves, and count the days until the Honey Crisp apple season opens. It's also time to celebrate ratatouille season, that delicious mixture of zucchini, garlic and eggplant, tomatoes and peppers, heavenly basil.
When my stepmother made ratatouille, it was similar to Julia's recipe; a tedious, oil soaked casserole of the same ingredients that truly repelled me. It was only when the "nouvelle" craze hit that I discovered a way to make a fresh, lively, and edible ratatouille.
*A note on eggplant. When I worked in a French restaurant, we routinely sliced the eggplants, salted them heavily in a strainer with kosher salt, and let them sit for 30 minutes, before washing and patting them dry. You can still do that, but I've found if you choose a very fresh, very firm eggplant, you can usually get away with just slicing and dicing it without that step. I admit, once I used an eggplant that turned out to be so bitter, I had to toss the whole batch of ratatouille. It's really your decision.
Rather than the hours the traditional recipe calls for, this recipe is done in about a half an hour.
To make:
3 T. olive oil
1 medium or large chopped onion
3 fat garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 large green pepper, chopped in a large dice
1 medium, firm, unpeeled eggplant, cut in a large dice
* you may salt and drain it first, see above
1 medium zucchini, cut in a large dice
about 1-2 cups canned plum tomatoes with juice, cut up. ( I also have used canned diced tomatoes with chiles, the 14.5 oz can)
3 T. or so of really good salsa ( I use Green Mountain Gringo from Vermont)
fresh or dried basil, oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
Add the onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes.
Add the peppers, eggplant, and zucchini and cook, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
Uncover and add the tomatoes, oregano, basil, and salt and pepper.
Turn heat to medium-low and let simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through and tender.
Turn off heat and let the ratatouille sit for 20 minutes before serving.
Your taste buds will thank you!

16 comments:

Barb said...

Hi Katria ~ Just catching up on some of your postings-and they all look so delicious! (Okay, maybe not ratatouille-never been a fan - but I love the word! ha!ha!) So sorry to read about Sheila Lukins. I love the Silver Palate cookbook, too.

Now...(and most importantly) just when do the Honey Crisp apples come into season? - they are THE BEST!

katrina said...

Hi Barb - I can't believe you don't like ratatouille! Maybe you just tasted a bad recipe; it is lovely!
The Honey Crisp ( or honeycrisp) apples should be ripening at Alyson's in another 3 weeks and I can't wait! Such a great, great apple!

Kristin said...

When I make ratatouille, I roast all the vegetables, then throw them in a pot with some fresh or canned tomatoes for 30 minutes or so for the flavors to meld. I'm sure purists wouldn't even consider it to be ratatouille, but it's delicious and easy: http://dinnerdujour.org/2009/08/22/oven-roasted-ratatouille-with-or-without-sausages/

katrina said...

Very similar recipe, Kristin, and roasting them is a great idea. I also love your idea of pureeing the cooked veggies as a pasta sauce for your kids! Thanks so much!

Janis said...

Looks yummy, Katrina, as your recipes always do.

I made an accidental unconstructed/reconstructed ratatouille last week. We had a surplus from the CSA and my garden - and I didn't really have the energy to deal with them. I sliced everything to about 1/2 inch thickness and laid the veggies onto separate glass & ceramic baking dishes before sprinkling with spices. I drizzled just a little extra virgin olive oil on the eggplant & zucchini, but left the tomatoes, peppers, garlic & onion alone. Everything slow-roasted for two hours at about 300F.

After two hours, I pulsed the tomatoes, onions, garlic in a food processor, tossed with the eggplant & squash, then adjusted the seasoning. Delicious!

The Gourmet On A Diet said...

Ahhh, I'm on my second week of Honeycrisps already. I've died and gone to heaven!

katrina said...

Thanks , Janis - and slow roasted veggies sound fabulous! Separating the veggies also seems to bring out their very individual tastes, so when you mix them together, it's ....well, astonishing. I do that with a vegetable soup I make, and it does something very special.

katrina said...

Lucky you, Gourmet! It's hard to wait so long, but soon, very, very soon........I will be a very happy apple muncher!

Chef Fresco said...

I've never attempted ratatouille and have really only eaten it once - looks quite yummy!

katrina said...

I'm stunned, Michael and Jessi! Ratatouille is delicious! Great in omelets, on pasta, or alone. Scent of the end of summer....do try it!

lisaiscooking said...

I just realized I haven't made ratatouille this year! Must get to it.

La Table De Nana said...

Katrina..I think you could make anything and I would always come back for the header and get fringe benefits in the entries:)

katrina said...

Perfect time to make ratatouille, lisa - so you're not even close to being late! So, so good, don't you agree?

katrina said...

Smooches, Nana!
While I do,sometimes, have a straightforward blog entry ( don't I?) I think my years as a poet have inspired me to get a little more creative with titles:)

Donna C. said...

Ratatouille was one of the first vegetable casseroles I learned to make. I lightly salted the eggplant and placed them on linen clothes to drain. Now, I never do that. I just slice and use them. I don't think today's eggplants are as bitter as they used to be. I also vary the variety of eggplant I use. Sometimes it is Japanese eggplant or Chinese because the seeds are indiscernible and they are hardly ever bitter unless they are unripe.

For the record, I made more ratatouille in college than anything else I ate because we grew the veggies and it was so easy to assemble--and it lasted in the fridge forever. Love the stuff!

katrina said...

Good point Donna. I think eggplants are sold much fresher than they used to be, too - which helps keep the bitterness down. Happy to meet another ratatouille fan!