Last Friday, I found myself with a bell pepper, an eggplant and no ideas for dinner. Using my ingredients as a starting point, I came across recipes for ratatouille, which I could make with ingredients we had on hand plus the addition of a small zucchini and some diced tomatoes. The one time I tried ratatouille, I was not that impressed; but the emotions and drama in the Disney movie were so convincing, I decided that there must be something wintery and comforting about such a dish.
I followed this Epicurious recipe, almost to a T, except that I used diced tomatoes from a can and dried basil instead of fresh. Oh, and I added some garbanzo beans for protein. I served this ratatouille over a bed of couscous.
1 onion, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 tablespoons olive oil
a 3/4-pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1 small zucchini, scrubbed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into thin slices
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp dried basil
To remove the bitter taste from the eggplant, peel (I like to leave some of the skin on, so you end up with a striped eggplant) and chop your eggplant first, then sprinkle it with salt and set aside in a colander or bowl while you chop the rest of the vegetables. Before cooking the eggplant, drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
In a large skillet cook the onion and the garlic in 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and heat it over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the eggplant and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened. Stir in the zucchini and the bell pepper and cook the mixture over the moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook the mixture, stirring occassionaly, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the oregano, the thyme, the coriander, the fennel seeds, the salt, and pepper to taste and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the basil and combine the mixture well. The ratatouille may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated before serving.
Result: Yum! Very soothing on a cold winter night, I especially liked the softness and tenderness of this meal, especially with the couscous.