By Kath Dedon
Cook’s Illustrated developed a recipe for Ratatouille that involves roasting the eggplant and the zucchini. I found the recipe online. (It can also be found in The New Best Recipe; it’s not in my older edition.) I liked the idea of roasting the vegetables so I decided to give their version a try.
I was halfway through the recipe when I realized that it didn’t call for peppers. Most recipes I’ve seen use red or green peppers. Julia Child used green peppers in her recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I would have liked to have read why the Cook’s Illustrated experts decided not to use peppers, but my online version didn’t include their usual discussion about the recipe.
So, my Ratatouille had no peppers. The recipe is pretty easy to make, but it does take a bit of time. In the end, though, it was quite tasty and a very satisfying vegetarian main dish. Next time, though, I may try Julia’s recipe and include green peppers.
Cook’s Illustrated suggested using very ripe beefsteak tomatoes for the best flavor. Since good ones weren’t available, I substituted a pound of Roma (plum) tomatoes.
(Adapted from a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated)
Serves 2 as a main course, 3 – 4 as a side dish
If you want to double it, you’ll need to use 2 baking sheets for the eggplant and zucchini. Put one oven rack in the upper third of the oven and the other one in the lower third. Rotate the baking sheets from one rack to the other halfway through roasting.
1 pound (1 medium) eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound (1 – 2 large) zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ cup olive oil, divided
½ pound sliced onions (about 1½ cups)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (I omitted, since I didn’t have any)
Ground black pepper
1. Put the eggplant in a colander over a large bowl. Toss it with 1 teaspoon salt. Let it sit for 1 – 3 hours.
2. Spread the eggplant on double layers of paper towels; put another double layer on top. Press to remove any extra moisture.
3. Heat the oven to 500˚.
4. Put the eggplant and zucchini in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
5. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty foil. Spread the eggplant and zucchini out on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and put in the preheated oven. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes so they will roast evenly.
6. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, over medium-low heat until the onion is soft and starting to turn golden brown. This takes 15 – 20 minutes.
7. Add the garlic to the onions and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
8. Add the tomatoes; cook for about 5 minutes.
9. Add the roasted eggplant and zucchini to the pan and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the parsley, basil, and thyme. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed, and freshly ground pepper.