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2017-10-04 / Taste

How about that ratatouille?

BY SARAH KURYSZ

JENNY MCQUEENJENNY MCQUEENEvery family has that one “kitchen sink” recipe, the dish you make when you haven’t been grocery shopping in a while, but you have ingredients to use up. These recipes are always a blend of delicious flavors and filling ingredients and there is consistently more than enough to share.

The idea dates at least as far back as late 18th century France, with ratatouille. This hearty vegetable dish was born out of the need to use up ripened vegetables before the frost set in and meals consisted of mostly roots and tubers. Plump tomatoes, deep purple eggplant and summer squash- es just finishing their season, roasted with fragrant herbs, filled plates in households across France. Originally prepared as a thick stew, with everything roasted together and served over stale bread, this dish has evolved into a beautifully layered presentation that works as a side or main course.

Ratatouille always consists of the same base ingredients: tomato, eggplant, summer squashes and herbs. More modern recipes have included peppers, onions and garlic – a delicious addition in my opinion. You have two routes for cooking ratatouille: cook everything together like a stew, or layer your veggies and roast them in the oven. The roasting method is my favorite – I like the smoky flavor that comes with oven-roasted vegetables.

Ratatouille

1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil,
plus extra for drizzling
1 small yellow onion,
finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon crushed
red pepper
1 can tomato paste
½ cup tomato puree
5-7 basil leaves, chopped*
1 Tablespoon oregano
leaves, chopped*
2 teaspoons thyme,
chopped*
*If you would like to
substitute dried spices, use 1
Tablespoon Italian seasoning in
place of the fresh herbs.
½ teaspoon salt, plus extra
for sprinkling
½ teaspoon black pepper,
plus extra for sprinkling
1 small eggplant
1-2 yellow summer squash
1-2 zucchini
3 tomatoes
1 Tablespoon herbs de Provence

JENNY MCQUEENJENNY MCQUEENPreheat oven to 375 degrees. In a saucepan, combine butter, olive oil, onion, garlic and crushed red pepper over medium heat. Sautee until onion is golden brown and soft. Add tomato paste, tomato puree, basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Set aside.

Wash your vegetables. Using a sharp knife, slice off the stems of the eggplant, squash, zucchini and tomatoes. Slice all vegetables into very thin slices. (A note about your vegetables: because they will all be layered together, it works well to try and find veggies that are roughly the same diameter.)

Pour your tomato mixture into a round or oval oven-safe dish. Layer your different sliced vegetables around the dish on top of the tomato mixture, alternating the eggplant, zucchini, tomato and squash until you have used them all. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs de Provence. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake 40-50 minutes until tender and bubbling. Serve with thick sliced bread. You can also serve with a dollop of soft goat cheese, which makes the entire dish extra creamy.

Now if this sounds exquisite to you but like way too much work, I completely understand. Fear not, you will not be left out of the ratatouille fan club. You can combine everything together in one soup pot for a delicious stew.

The first half of the recipe is the same. Sautee your onion mixture, add in tomato sauce and herbs. Chop your vegetables into 1-inch chunks, and add to the pot. Add herbs de Provence. Simmer over medium heat until vegetables are tender and fragrant, about 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy! 

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