I’ve known my husband for about 13 years and never would I have guessed that he would love eggplant. I have memories of him making wienie mac in college (ya know…mac n cheese from a box with a couple of chopped up hot dogs mixed in?). That, Jack’s Pizza, and Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies were major staples in his diet. Eggplant? Not so much.
My how the times have changed. This week, I came home after an evening out and asked what he had for dinner.
“Yep,I cut into slices, grilled it and topped it with feta. What more did I need?”
We are currently in love with eggplant and our garden is rampant with it making us very happy people.
Aside from it’s deliciousness, it’s my favorite thing to grow. It’s so beautiful.
It’s also very versatile. We like it best grilled, in pasta or in ratatouille. Today I’m talking about ratatouille but for other recipes check out my post on this awesome veggie from last summer.
I love ratatouille. It’s basically a fun way to say vegetable stew. It’s also an entertaining movie. My go-to recipe has always been this one from my Gourmet cookbook. I like that you make your own tomato sauce, cook each vegetable seperately and really give it the love it deserves. However, on a Thursday night after running a few miles, time was not on my side and I had a limited amount of love. I wanted my ratatouille fast. So, I took some major short cuts.
1. I did not salt and drain my eggplant. Because it’s fresh from my backyard, I have never found it to be bitter (which I think it part of the reasoning for salting and draining – please correct me if I’m wrong.) I just chop and go.
2. I did not make my own tomato sauce. I didn’t have enough ripe ones in the garden and I still had some canned ones from last season which was way faster. Store bought canned tomatoes would work just fine too, I promise.
3. I did not cook each vegetable separately and bring it all together in the end. I wanted one pot and I wanted ease.
The result? Tasty goodness. I couldn’t tell a big difference between this way and the more labor intensive version. To be fair, I didn’t test them side by side so I could be surprised. However, for a Thursday night – this was perfect.
I like my ratatouille a few different ways. This makes a lot so you can experiment quite a bit. Just by itself with a piece of crusty bread is delicious. It’s also great with a fried or poached egg on top (isn’t everything?). A sprinkling of feta = happiness in a bowl. Bonus if you do both the egg and the feta.
Tossing it with pasta would make a great hearty meal and a perfect one if you have a big workout planned the next day….or even if you didn’t.
This week, I tried something new. I took some leftovers and blended it a bit and used it as a pizza sauce. Loved it.
I have had success freezing this and think it’s a great way to use the oodles of produce available right now. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
adapted big time from Gourmet
Note: This is a very loose recipe. I started with the first vegetable on the list and as one was cooking, I chopped the other and so on. Don’t think to hard on this one. The veggies will combine wonderfully in the end.
Serves: 6-8 depending on how much you like it.
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3 bell peppers, coarsley chopped (color of your choice)
2 medium eggplant, cut into big chunks
1 giant or 4 small to medium zucchini, cut into chunks. I had one the size of Mr. T’s arm so I just used the one. Note: when, they’re huge, I cut out some of the seedy flesh – I don’t think it has any flavor.
28 oz. can of tomatoes with their juice – home canned or store bought
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
Salt and Pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large dutch oven. Add the onions and let them sweat out a bit. I added the garlic about 5 minutes in.
Chop and drop the peppers, eggplant, and zucchini in that order, stirring and seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. After all the chopped veggies are in the pot, I add a glug more of olive oil to keep things moving.
After they have broke down a tad, add your tomatoes with juice and stir. Add your fresh herbs and stir. Wait until your mixture is bubbling, turn down the heat and simmer, covered for 45-60 minutes, until the vegetables are super tender. Use that time to clean up your mess, take a shower (if you just got home from a run like I did), make your side dishes, or have a glass of wine. Wine is superb with ratatouille.
Let it cool a bit before serving…if you can wait that long. Check your seasonings and enjoy!
It will keep in the fridge all week making fantastic leftovers.
Do you have any fun ideas on ways to jazz up ratatouille? Favorite eggplant recipes? Please share!