Summertime….. and the living is easy… as they say. Except that here in Paris, it’s barely been summer-like weather. But no matter, this week’s JC100 recipe – Ratatouille – was perfect for those of us cooking in cooler conditions than those of you sweltering back home on the east coast. Ratatouille can be comfort food or it can be a sweet summer side dish, served cold. It’s one of my favourite vegetable dishes, that’s for sure. I have a favourite recipe for it already so I was interested to try Julia’s version.
Like other good ratatouille recipes, this one has you cooking your vegetables at different stages (to avoid the mush factor) and Julia layers the veggies after they are partly cooked so that each vegetable infuses the others with its flavour. Neat concept and it worked. I made this as a side dish earlier in the week for friends but have since enjoyed it just on its own. In fact, summer DID appear fleetingly yesterday so a glass of rosé seemed an appropriate accompaniment.
- 1 lb eggplant
- 1 lb zucchini
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed
- ½ lb (about 1½ cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
- 2 (about 1 cup) sliced green bell peppers
- only 1 green pepper but add 1 orange pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, if necessary
- 2 cloves mashed garlic
- 1 lb firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and juiced (makes 1½ cups pulp)
- 3 tablespoons minced parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8 inch thick, about 3 inches long, and 1 inch wide.
- Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends, and cut the zucchini into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices.
- Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes.
- Drain. Dry each slice in a towel.
- One layer at a time, sauté the eggplant, and then the zucchini in hot olive oil for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly.
- Remove to a side dish.
- In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Stir in the garlic and season to taste.
- Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8-inch strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice.
- Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil for several minutes, until juice has almost entirely evaporated.
- Place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of the casserole and sprinkle over it 1 tablespoon 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 flavoured olive oil. Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.
- Set aside uncovered. Reheat slowly at serving time, or serve cold.
* Culinary icon Julia Child would have turned 100 years old on August 15th of this year. To honor her, the folks at YC Media and Random House/ Alfred A. Knopf are launching the JC100: an international campaign involving restaurants, chefs, bookstores, and bloggers, all celebrating Julia and her legacy. Their goal is to raise one million voices in tribute to Julia, and I am honoured to participate!
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Follow my French travels on Flickr this summer with my Summer 2012 set of photos.