Thursday, August 13, 2009

Its Finally TIme!

I have been waiting all summer to receive the first eggplant in our CSA and it finally arrived this week! For months, I have been wanting to try my hand at making ratatouille. I've never made it before, and it has to be one of my favorite French culinary words (my absolute favorite is pamplemousse - which is French for grapefruit). Its basically a stew of fresh vegetables that are all in season in August. So I wanted to hold out on my first ratatouille adventure until I could get all the ingredients fresh and locally. And now is the time!

I used Orangette's recipe as my base. I loved that it started with roasted eggplant - much easier to get eggplant nice and golden in the oven than in a pan on the stove. I also used a big, beautiful yellow summer squash instead of a zucchini.

This was browned in a pan, and then set aside with the eggplant. Then I tossed in the pan onions, chopped red pepper, garlic, and tomatoes. I was planning to use some fresh thyme and basil in the recipe, but didn't have any on hand. So, it seemed to make sense to flavor this provincial stew with herbs de provence.

All of this simmered for a bit to soften the vegetables and meld the flavors.

And to turn it into a little more of a main course, I topped it with a poached egg.

With a runny yolk, of course.

The dish was amazing! So fresh and flavorful. I hear the flavors get even better after a couple days - so I left some for Derek to eat tomorrow night when I'm at the Healthy Living Summit cocktail party!

This dish totally lived up to its name - its a mouthful!

Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille
adapted from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1" rounds
1 large zucchini or summer squash, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and sliced into 1/2" half moons
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp herbs de provence
salt & pepper
  • Preheat oven to 400ยบ
  • Brush both sides of eggplant with EVOO, and lay them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet
  • Roast for about 30 minutes, flipping half way through, until soft and golden.  Set aside (can be made up to 2 days ahead)
  • Heat 2 Tbls EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high heat
  • Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft and lightly browned on each side. Remove from pan and set aside
  • Add more oil to pan if its dry, then add onions and reduce heat to medium
  • Saute until onions are softened, about 5 minutes
  • Add red pepper and garlic and cook about 6 more minutes
  • Add tomatoes, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 5 minutes
  • Add eggplant and zucchini. Cover and simmer on low for about 15 - 20 minutes
  • Serve topped with a poached egg and with some crusty bread
Dessert was sort of a Cajun-Mexican-Guatemalan fusion. I had another plantain that had gotten very ripe, so I decided to turn it into sort of a Plantains Foster. I started by browning some butter in a large pan - watching it very closely...

Then added the sliced plantains and some sugar.

And then I poured in some excellent Guatemalan rum that I bought when I visited there a couple years ago. My cousin Carlos claims its the best in the world - probably because he's Guatemalan. I served splashes of it straight as an after dinner drink. Its very strong - it took me an entire episode of True Blood to get through this little drink!

When the plantains had cooked down a bit, I scooped them over vanilla ice cream.

It was a bit less saucy than bananas foster usually is - the plantains were actually a little crispy in places. But it was really nice with the ice cream. Isn't everything, though?

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