Are you swimming in vegetables yet? If you belong to a CSA and/or make a hobby out of frequenting your local farmer’s market, I imagine you are feeling a little like we are. Sometimes I fear that I won’t be able to use all my vegetables fast enough before the next batch arrives. It certainly doesn’t help that I approach buying vegetables like I do buying shoes. I know that I have a bunch of stuff at home that I should eat but I just can’t resist a ripe melon or a basket of technicolor cherry tomatoes.
That is where Ratatouille comes in. This recipe is one of the best ways to use up all those veggies you have in the fridge (psst, you can even use the ones that are slightly past their peak of freshness). The vegetables are cooked with olive oil, aromatic herbs, and a splash of vinegar and somehow, this transforms a dish that is mostly zucchini and eggplant into something that is silky, rich, and deeply satisfying.
If you have lots of veggies, you can easily double this recipe (which is what I did) and make enough to feed an army. It keeps well in the fridge and reheats nicely for leftover.
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
1 lb zucchini, cut into 1″ cubes
1 large onion, sliced
1 small bell pepper, cut into 1″ squares (we threw some left over hot pepper in there too… feel free to do the same if you like a little heat)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 4-inch sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup basil
2 tbls red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Using a large skillet that has a cover, saute the eggplant and zucchini over high heat in 1/4 cup olive oil until just tender, about 10-12 minutes. Remove the eggplant and zucchini and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the two tablespoons of olive oil and the onions. Cook until the onions are slightly softened. Add in the bell pepper and garlic and continue to cook until just tender, another 8-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the tomatoes, the garlic, rosemary, and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and let it ride for 5 minutes. Add back in the previously cooked eggplant and zucchini. This time, let it all cook over low heat until it’s really tender, about 20 minutes. To finish, stir in the fresh basil and red wine vinegar.
Ratatouille makes a delicious main dish, a side dish, or light lunch. It can be served warm or room temperature. Serves 6-8 as a side dish.