Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ratatouille

We had a nice little Provencal-style meal two nights ago. I made some honey lavender chicken with some of this ratatouille and it was a huge hit. There are about a million and a half recipes for ratatouille, but I think it is nice to have your own version or method, so to speak. Here is my go at it.

The largest problem with ratatouille is the water content of the eggplant. The texture of soggy eggplant really puts me off, so I have a few ways I up the quality of this dish. Salting and extracting water from the eggplant is the main way, but I also use a thin layering of vegetables to maximize evaporation potential.

Lastly, making the paste of garlic and spices is rather important in my mind. Crushed garlic runs the risk of burning, and that gives us an undesirable product in the end. I think it also just flavors the oil better, but that is just me.

Ratatouille:
1 large eggplant
1 zucchini
1 large onion
1 red pepper, cored and seeded
4 roma tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
Fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for eggplant
A pinch of: oregano, cayenne, cumin, tumeric, paprika, and thyme
5 to 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat an oven to 450F.
2. Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch thick rounds, and then cut those in half. Liberally salt the eggplant flesh on both sides and then drain on a wire rack while preparing the other vegetables. (I reccomend at least 30 minutes of draining time before cooking the eggplant.)
3. Using a mandoline, slice the onion into 1/8-inch thick rounds, and the zuchhini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Slice the red pepper and tomatoes into 1/4-inch rounds as well.
4. Using a mortar and pestle make a paste from the garlic cloves, the spices, and the salt. Mix this with the 5 tablespoons of oil and set aside.
5. Once the eggplant is done draining begin layering the vegetables in an lightly oiled broiler pan. Make a horizontal layer of onions, then red pepper, eggplant, tomato, basil, and zucchini. Keep working down the pan until it is full, being careful not to make thick layers of vegetables. (Just enough to cover a little of the previous layer.)
6. Brush the tops of the layers with the flavored oil, adding more oil to the bowl as necessary. Roast for 30 minutes and serve slightly hot.

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