Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ian's Yummy Ratatouille

I started making this French vegetable dish after watching the Pixar movie about the rat that cooks. If rodents can cook it, so can I. The recipe is from the Joy of Cooking.

Ingredients:

1/4 olive oil + 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound zuchini, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 cup sliced onions
2 large bell peppers, cut into 1 inch squares
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups, chopped seeded peeled fresh tomatoes (3 or so)
2 to 3 sprigs fresh time
1 bay leaf

Directions:

1. Saute the eggplant and zuchini cubes in the 1/4 cup oilive oil in a large skillet over high heat until the vegetables are golden and just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

2. Remove the vegetables, reduce heat to medium high. In the same pan cook the 2 tablespoons olive oil and the onions until the onions are slightly softened.

3. Add the garlic and red bell peppers to the onions and cook for 8 to 12 minutes. The heat will still be at medium high.

4. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste.

5. Add to the onion/red pepper mixture the 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf.

6. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook this mixture for five minutes.

7. Add eggplant and zuchini to mixture and cook on low heat for 20 more minutes (I covered the skillet for the 20 minute cook).

8. Add 1/4 chopped fresh basil.

I've cooked this several times and realized that not every ingredient is a necessity. For example, I've got by without adding the onions or bay leaf. The most important thing is to let the ingredients cook slowly so the flavor comes out. Also, make sure that the tomatoes are properly seeded, otherwise the mixture will end up too soupy. Properly cooked, this recipe will create a garden feast fit for both mice (maybe rats) and men.

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