***If you saw my kitchen right now, you might just chuckle. In fact, Brad thinks it's pretty funny. What am I talking about? Well, there are several small mountains of fresh produce meticulously arranged and on glorious display around my kitchen. Sweet potatoes, red potatoes, green bell pepper, not one but THREE varieties of eggplant, gorgeous tomatoes, cucumbers, and even fresh basil and spearmint.
In my opinion, one must take advantage of this wonderful summer produce while you can!! Right??
This past weekend, Brad and I visited our favorite farmer's markets to see what was available. We came home with bags of goodies, and I was super excited to get into the kitchen!
With so much eggplant and tomato on-hand, a delicious Ratatouille was a no-brainer. And not just ANY ratatouille - Julia's! If you are going to commit to such a classic dish, it needs to be done right. Julia's recipe is the "proper" way to prepare one. Each vegetable is cooked individually before they are all added to the same dish for the grand finale. That way, each veggie retains its own shape and delicious layers of flavor are created.
I know, I know...You might be thinking, "Now, who would want to go through SO much trouble for just a side dish??" However, stop right there - The extra steps and preparation for this dish are all well worth the effort. With that first bite, you'll be transported to Provence...even if it's only for a few fleeting, but wonderful seconds!
Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking; Volume I by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle
- 1 lb. eggplant 1 lb. zucchini (I used yellow squash instead) 1 tsp. salt 4-6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided 1/2 lb. (about 1 1/2 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions 2 sliced red or green peppers (about 1 cup) 2 cloves mashed garlic Salt & Pepper to taste 1 lb. firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced 3 Tbsp. minced parlsey
Directions:Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8" think, about 3" long and 1" wide. Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends and cut into slices about the same size as the eggplant. Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with 1 tsp. salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain and dry each slice in a towel.
One layer at a time, saute the eggplant and then the zucchini in 4 Tbsp. hot olive oil in a 10-12" skillet for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly. Remove to a side dish.
In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers (add an additional 2 Tbsp. of olive oil if needed) for about 10 minutes, until tender but not browned. Stir in the garlic and season with salt & pepper to taste.
Slice tomato pulp into 3/8" strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt & pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice. Uncover, taste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil for several minutes until juice has almost entirely evaporated.
Place a third of the tomatoe mixture in the bottom of a 2 1/2 quart casserole (about 2 1/2" deep). Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. fresh, minced parlsey over tomatoes. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.
Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip the casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Correct seasoning if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered about 15 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!