Aug 8, 2014 6:00 PM

Ratatouille by Chef Barry Infuso

Ratatouille is the essence of Provence and is certainly one of the great Mediterranean dishes. As it is a hearty flavor, it is used to accompany, beef, lamb, pot-au-feu (boiled beef), roast chicken. Equally good hot or cold, it makes a fine accompaniment to cold meats, may be served as a cold hors d'oeuvre and stands alone. It is most refreshing as a cool salad during our hot summers or a topping for pasta anytime. I hope it becomes part of your favorite dishes to prepare as it has mine.

Ratatouille is a quick dish to make and captures the flavor of Provence. Happily a ratatouille may be cooked completely the day before it is to be served, and it gains in flavor when reheated the next day. It will keep for one week in the refrigerator or may be frozen.

For 6 to 8 people
1/2 pound eggplant , bite-size dice
1/2 pound zucchini , bite-size dice
1 teaspoon salt
A 10- to 12-inch non-stick skillet
4 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed
1/2 pound (about 1 1/2 cups) thinly diced yellow onions
2 (about 1 cup) sliced bell peppers of your choice of color
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, if necessary
2 cloves mashed garlic (optional, if garlic does not agree with you)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced (makes 1 1/2 cups pulp) You may replace the fresh tomatoes with canned tomato sauce, or canned plum tomatoes (28oz can). This recipe is very forgiving.
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley if on hand or may be omitted. Parsley is very refreshing and adds a nice taste to the finished dish
1 ½ teaspoon Italian Seasoning A 3-quart, porcelain or stainless-steel mixing bowl A 2 1/2 quart fireproof casserole about 2 1/2 inches deep

In the skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil or Canola or oil of your choice for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Stir in the garlic and season to taste. Add the eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms.

Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8-inch strips or add approximately 12 oz of the canned product and adjust to more as needed. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice. Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and simmer for several minutes until juice has almost entirely evaporated.
Cover the casserole or pan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, taste and correct seasoning, if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes more, basting several times until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil. Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole. If the recipe is getting too dry, just add some water and continue to simmer until the proper consistency.
Set aside uncovered. Reheat slowly at serving time or serve cold. Enjoy!

Per serving (based on 6): 116 calories, 2 gm protein, 13 gm carbohydrates, 7 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 gm saturated fat, 135 mg sodium, 4 gm dietary fiber.


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