Sunday, January 09, 2011

Mid-Winter Ratatouille

I love eggplant and the Mediterranean flavors of garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs, so this is one of my favorite recipes, especially in the summer when I have an abundance of green things and garden-ripened tomatoes; However, with a few tweaks, it also works as a wonderfully warm and comforting mid-winter burst of sunshine flavors. (Sorry the picture is less than colorful, just try to imagine...)

1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic crushed
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut into cubes (**I prefer to "salt" and drain eggplant before using, but it's up to you - see note below)
2 red peppers, sliced, or a bag of those frozen red/yellow pepper strips
4 large tomatoes, chopped with juices or a 16 oz. can sliced, stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup red wine (or water, tomato juice or more broth)
2 zucchini, chopped, or a package frozen zucchini (I use produce I've frozen from my garden, but the equivalent in your local grocer isn't too hard to find)
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped Kalamata or green olives, coarsely chopped
2 Tb. capers (optional but yummy)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
"Herbes de Provence" (or whatever combo Rosemary, Basil, Marjoram, Savory, Thyme) I use fresh or frozen, from my summer patio herb "garden"

Sauté onion in olive oil until translucent, add the eggplant and fry a few minutes, trying to get some browned areas on the eggplant and onion if possible. The eggplant will probably soak up all the oil instantly, this is why I use a non-stick skillet here.
Add the garlic, peppers, tomatoes, broth, wine and zucchini.
Let stew, covered, on low, until zucchini and peppers are softened.
Add olives, capers and as much of the chopped herbs as you like, the amount is up to you.
Let simmer, covered, over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If too "soupy", take the cover off for the last 10 min and increase heat; If too thick, add more water.
Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.

Serve hot as a main dish, or cold as a side dish - good mixed with or served over rice or pasta.
Can also be used to stuff into pita bread, roll up in tortillas, or make into a vegetable pot pie.
I often add chick-peas or cubes of browned tofu to bulk this up even more.

**Note: "Salting" eggplant seems to draw off a lot of bitter juices; especially nice for kids, or those who may be more sensitive to eggplant's stronger flavors.
To "salt" your eggplant, cube for the recipe and then toss with 3 TABLESPOONS (yes, tablespoons) salt. Place on paper towels in a strainer. Leave for 30 - 40 min (while prepping the rest of the recipe) and then remove paper towel, dump eggplant into strainer, rinse and pat dry (I even "squeeze" it a bit) with another paper towel. Use as directed.


Nat said...

sounds delicious!! can't wait to try it!!

Jen said...

As always, I've been behind in posting. Ratatouille? Pecan spread? Meatballs with chile sauce? AND persimmon bars? I knew I loved you, but it's confirmed--you rock!

I hope I get to see you at Vida Vegan Con this year.

xo Jewy