I was in a restaurant in beautiful St. Maarten when a waiter presented the table with a beautiful ratatouille served in timbales. It was delicious-and set me to thinking about adapting the usual ratatouille, a vegetable stew, to make it less stew-y. Here’s the result, a vibrant, fragrant, hash-every vegetable retains its distinctive texture as well as flavor-that makes a perfect meal served with chicken, fish or meat. You can serve it hot or at room temperature.
Serves 10 to 12
Convert It– To make this a dairy main dish, add a 10-ounce can of drained and rinsed chick peas and crumbled feta. Or, for a quick moussaka-like dish, toss the hash with ground, sauteed lamb.
Geila’s Tips – Check the bottom of the eggplants you buy. If the pip there is round, the plant is female, if long, male. Male eggplants have fewer seeds.
- 3 pounds (about 2 medium) eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
- 4 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
- 2 large onions, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 garlic cloves, put through a garlic press
- 2 roasted red bell peppers * cut into 1/4 inch dice
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- One 12-ounce can plum tomatoes with their juice
- 3 tablespoons chopped basil
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover 2 medium cookie sheets with foil.
- Place the eggplant in a colander in the sink and roast with 2 tablespoons salt. Top with a plate and a weight, such as as a large can or wine bottle. Let the eggplant drain for 30 minutes rinse and dry it, and transfer to a cookie sheet. Drizzle over 3 tablespoons olive oil.
- Place the zucchini on the second cookie sheet, toss with 2 tablespoons salt and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Bake the zucchini and the eggplant until cooked through, about 20 minutes, stirring both after 10 minutes to prevent sticking. Set both aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt and saute, stirring, until translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Push the onions to the side of the pan, add the tomato paste to the center, and cook until the the paste begins to bubble, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute the mixture until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bell peppers, stir, and add the vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, if using, and tomatoes with half their juice. and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add the eggplant, zucchini and basil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, until the flavors have blended about 10 minutes. If the mixture seems too dry, add more of the tomato juice and simmer 4 to 5 minutes more. Adjest the seasoning, if necessary, transfer to plates, and serve.
* 2 roasted bell peppers
On a burner or under the broiler, roast the peppers until the skin is uniformly charred. Transfer to to a paper bag or a bowl. Close the bag or cover the bowl with foil, a dish towel or plastic wrap. Let the peppers steam until they become cool enough to handle. Remove the stems, peel, remove seeds and cut the peppers into 1 to 1 1/2 inch dice. Reserve any juice.
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!