Ratatouille! One of my favorite things to make with just-picked eggplant, zucchini, onions, tomatoes and garlic. This delicious combination of late summer vegetables is a specialty of the Provençal area of France. My first taste of ratatouille was not in Provançe, but in Paris and it was memorable, love at first bite; so I set out to find the best recipe ever. Many recipes call for throwing all the veggies in a pot and "stewing" them together. This results in a, not so nice, dish of mush. I have found that in order to maintain the integrity and flavor of each vegetable it is best to sauté each one separately. You will love the versatility of this dish. It can be served hot or cold, as an appetizer or main dish. Toss it into hot pasta, spoon it into a crepe with some ricotta and grated mozzarella, make it into a quiche, and as you will see below, it makes a darn good pizza topping! Enjoy!
1 lb eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (you can remove the skin, optional)
1 lb zucchini, washed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 lb onions (1 large) peeled, sliced in half and then into very thin slices
1 sweet red pepper, washed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 lbs ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8-10 Tbs of good-quality olive oil
3 cloves fresh minced garlic
Freshly ground pepper
Separate the zucchini and the eggplant into two different colanders, toss both with salt and let sit to drain for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the onions, clean and cut peppers. Peel, seed and cut tomatoes.
Pat dry the eggplant and zucchini with paper towels. Heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan, add 1/2 the eggplant and brown on all sides, remove to a strainer and brown the remaining eggplant, set aside. Add additional oil to the pan if needed, sauté zucchini and peppers, until soft and slightly browned, set aside.
In 2 tablespoons of oil sauté the onions until wilted and lightly colored, stir in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds to release the flavor, then add the tomatoes and cover the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, uncover the pan, raise the heat and cook briskly until the juices have evaporated. Combine all the vegetables, cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes, uncover and cook until juices are reduced. Salt and pepper to taste. I find I never need salt!
Now take some of that fragrant, delicious ratatouille and spread it on a thin pizza crust, (I use Trader Joe's plain fresh crust and cook it on a hot pizza stone) top with slices of fresh basil and fresh mozzarella, bake at 425° for 10 minutes and you will never order pizza again!
Ratatouille Pizza, served with a salad Mâche and pomegranate seeds topped with a fruity olive oil. Yum!