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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Julia Child's Ratatouille

When we started to receive eggplant in our CSA shares this summer, I kind of cringed. I've had a hard time eating eggplant ever since my mom made us eggplant parmesan with a slightly off eggplant. The texture doesn't really do anything for me either. Often when texture is the sole problem, making some sort of puree solves it. I did make some baba ganoush earlier in the summer, but my husband requested ratatouille, so I reluctantly made some.

I decided to go straight for the French food pro--Julia Child--for this one, but did adapt the ratios a little. It was an easy recipe, if time consuming. The flavor was terrific, and this dish really lets the vegetables shine. I was even able to eat a few bites of the eggplant itself. I served it over couscous, and I think that the only change I would make next time would be to go ahead and use the juice from the tomatoes (and perhaps a little water or stock) and not let it reduce as much as Julia suggests to give it some extra moisture. The couscous needed some yummy vegetable juices to soak up.

adapted from Julia Child

1 lb. eggplant
1 lb. zucchini
1 tsp salt
4 Tbl olive oil, plus more if needed
2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
2 cups sliced green peppers
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 lb. tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced (save the juice), sliced about 1/2 inch thick
3 Tbl parsely, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel the eggplant and slice in half lengthwise. Slice the eggplant across to make approximately 3-inch wide and 1/2-inch thick pieces. Slice the zucchini into large, diagonal slices. Place the eggplant and zucchini into a large bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of salt. Let sit for 30 minutes. Drain, and dry each piece with a towel.

Heat 4 Tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Saute the eggplant for about a minute on each side, or until very lightly browned. Remove to a dish or bowl. Repeat with the zucchini.

In the same skillet, saute the onions and peppers over low heat for about 10 minutes until tender (but not browned). If there is not enough oil left from the eggplant and zucchini, add a little more. Stir in the garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Lay the tomato strips on top of the onion and pepper mixture and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about five minutes or until the tomatoes start to render their juice. Uncover and baste the tomatoes with their juice. Raise the heat and boil the mixture until the juices have almost completely evaporated.

In a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish (suitable for using on the stovetop), spoon about 1/3 of the tomato mixture onto the bottom. Sprinkle with about 1 Tablespoon of parsley and then layer about 1/2 of the eggplant and zucchini. Spoon on half of the remaining tomato mixture, 1 Tablespoon of parsley, and then layer the rest of the eggplant and zucchini. Finish it off by spreading on the rest of the tomato mixture and the remaining parsley. Pour the tomato juices (and a little stock or water if you want even more liquid) over the vegetables.

Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Uncover and baste with juices. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Raise the heat slightly and cook for another 15 minutes, basting the vegetables every once in a while. Be careful to not let the vegetables scorch on the bottom of the casserole.

Serve or set aside uncovered until you are ready to serve it. This dish can be served warm or cold.

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Lori October 8, 2010 at 12:19 PM  

This sounds great! I find that I really like Asian version of eggplants versus our jumbo purple ones in the States. This year we planted Japanese eggplant and I loved it. The skin cooks through more quickly and is less tough.

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