Ratatouille

I love this as a side dish to roast lamb, grilled chicken, browned sausage, potato pancakes, or scrambled eggs, or on its own over egg noodles or a piece of toasted sourdough bread. It’s also great leftover as goop to add to a good meat or cheese sandwich. The key is, as Elias’s mother would tell you, not to be skimpy on the olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • as much as 2 cups of good quality olive oil
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1.5 tablespoons salt
  • 1-2 heads of garlic (depending on your taste)
  • 3-4 stalks fresh rosemary, if available (or 2 tablespoons dried)
  • 6-8 stalks fresh thyme, if available (or 2 tablespoons dried)
  • 3 large red or yellow peppers, or 4-5 smaller ones
  • 3-4 small zucchini
  • 2 large cans whole tomatoes (I like Muir Glen “fire roasted”)

Specific cookware required:

  1. A large metal roasting pan. (I use a marvelous Iron Clad roasting pan that the mate got me for my birthday.) You can also use a good uncovered dutch oven for this (i.e., an enameled cast iron pan), or a glass roasting pan in a pinch, although glass doesn’t brown the vegs very well.

  2. A large bowl.

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the roasting pan or dutch oven in the oven while it preheats.

  2. Once the oven and the pan are hot, wash the eggplant and then cut off the stem end. Cut up the eggplant into wedge chunks about an inch thick. (Leave the peel on.)

  3. Immediately toss the eggplant in the bowl with all the salt and enough oil to soak the eggplant well.

  4. Immediately toss all that into the hot pan and close up the oven.

  5. Then strip the garlic cloves of their wrappings. (I find it easiest to smash each clove under the side of a big knife and just peel off the “paper.” I use two heads for this.)

  6. Toss the garlic in the bowl with more oil and add it to the pan.

  7. Prepare the peppers (cut away the step, seeds, and white bits, and cut into bite size chunks) and zucchini (cut lengthwise into 4 long strips and then once across), toss those in the bowl with some more oil and add to the pan.

  8. Soak the herbs in oil and toss those into the pan.

  9. Cook for about an hour.

  10. Then drain the tomatoes and use your hands to squash out most of the remaining liquid in the tomatoes. (If you want, you can save all that tomato liquid to use in juice or in soup.) Add the tomatoes to the pan.

  11. Add some more oil (enough to make sure everything is coated well), and stir it all about.

  12. .Cook for another 45 minutes or so, stirring when you want to smell how great it smells.

  13. If you used fresh herbs, pull out the stems before serving.
     

This will be oily, so serve it with a slotted spoon. And then save the oil, and use it on bread and for cooking other dishes. It is totally delicious.

 

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