Ratatouille

Now that warm weather has arrived, I crave things that are a little bit lighter (or maybe it’s that bathing suit that taunts me in my closet!).   So when Sunday rolled around I did my normal perusing through recipes to decide what I wanted to make.  I don’t really know how I decided on Ratatouille, maybe it’s still that love for Disney that keeps that little rat in my head, but a veggie casserole dish seemed to hit the spot.  I also have to admit that I’ve been wanting to try out some more Julia Child’s recipes so this just gave me an excuse!  Beware though because her recipes tend to be involved and time consuming and although this wasn’t hard, it did take some time.  Even more time was taken in convincing Ricky on the appeal on this one, but I won him over with cooking some Italian sausage along side and it was as most of Julia’s things-perfection!

Ratatouille

adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. eggplant
  • 1 lb. zucchini
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tb. olive oil, more if needed
  • ½ lb. (about 1 ½ cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
  • 2 (about 1 cup) sliced green bell peppers (I used 1.5)
  • 2-3 Tb. olive oil, if necessary
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic (I actually used 3..yes I do love garlic!)
  • 1 lb. firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced to make 1 ½ cups pulp
  • 3 tbs. chopped parsley (I actually used a combination of parsley and basil)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Peel the eggplant and cut into slices 3/8 inch thick, about 3 inches long, and 1 inch wide. Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends, and cut like the eggplant. Place in a bowl and toss with the salt. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Drain your eggplant and zucchini slices and dry them on a towel.

One layer at a time, sautée the eggplant, and then the zucchini in hot olive oil for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, cook the onions and the peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but now browned. Stir in the garlic and season to taste.

Boil a small pot of water and immerse your tomatoes for about 10 seconds. Remove, cool, and peel off the skins.

Slice the peeled tomatoes through the center, and gently squeeze them over a bowl to extract the juices and seeds. Slice the juiced and seeded tomatoes (Julia calls this the “tomato pulp”) into 3/8 inch strips.

Lay the sliced tomato pulp over the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes have begun to render their juice. Uncover, baste with the juices, raise heat and boil for several minutes, until juice has almost evaporated.

Place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of a heavy casserole pot (the recipe calls for a 2 1/2 quart fireproof casserole about 2 1/2 inches deep) and sprinkle over it 1 Tb. of parsley. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini, and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.

Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices Correct seasoning, if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil. Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.

**As a side note-Julia’s recipes often call for a lot more oil than I would typically use, I didn’t follow the amounts in the recipe but just did it to looks/taste.

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