Thursday, October 7, 2010

RATATOUILLE


Today I was the kind of produce shopper I hate.  I went to the market looking for eggplant and when it was obvious there was not a selection of good, firm eggplant, I couldn't change my mind and pick some other vegetables that did look great.  There were plenty of great looking cauliflower and broccoli, for example.  But no, I'd told my friend Bunny I was making ratatouille, and by God I found the one firm eggplant in the San Juan market (a BIG market with at least 100 fruit and vegetable stalls).
As soon as I got home, I cut the eggplant into rounds, and salted them.  This is to remove bitterness.   I didn't skin it -- some of eggplant's many nutrients live in the skin.

Ingredients:  Eggplant, med-large onion, 2 peppers (usually bell, but I used a yellow bell and a poblano), 4 plum tomatos,  2 zucchini, 3 cloves garlic, sprigs of thyme and oregano, salt and pepper.  (If you google ratatouille you'll see variations on these ingredients and I think they all probably taste great.) 

While the eggplant sat,  I sautéed the chopped onion in olive oil until it was translucent, then I added the chopped peppers.  Meanwhile I was roasting the tomatoes on a comal (could've been in the oven or on a skillet) because they weren't as ripe as I wanted and I thought roasting might add some flavor.  

After the peppers were soft, I added the tomatoes, 2 whole cloves of garlic and the sprigs of herbs.

While that stuff simmered, I cut the eggplant into cubes and sliced the 2 zucchini.  I sautéed these separately in their own olive oil until soft, then added them to the pot with the other veggies and added salt and pepper to taste.   After cooking them together for a while I shut them off and left them covered.  Bunny wasn't arriving for another hour.   I like to let meals like this sit in the pot for awhile or even overnight and then reheat ... it gives the flavors a chance to mingle.  
Before adopting my new proportions, ratatouille is a meal I would've served with both rice and bread, but today I served it with just a French style loaf of bread.  I put out grated cheese plus some slices of fresh cheese to add protein.  

For desert I served sliced strawberries and bananas stirred into plain yogurt.
  
To drink I served fresh squeezed lemonade. A friend recently gave me 100 tiny lemons that had fallen off the neighbor's tree into her patio.  I spent yesterday evening squeezing them all and now have over a quart of fresh lemon.

Bunny was impressed.

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