Wednesday, November 20, 2013

1 Ratatouille = 3 different meals!

I love, love, love, this versatile Ratatouille recipe.  If you haven't had this dish before, or don't know what it tastes like, it's basically a savory stew of eggplants, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes.  A perfect harvest meal, and perfect for a chilly winter's night.  But if  your kids are like mine, put a dish where they can actually see the vegetables, and you'd have a mutiny on your hands!  So I end up playing short order chef, and making it two different ways for one meal.  In the end every body's happy, and not complaining - to me that's worth the extra effort.  This Ratatouille also freezes well, so maybe try first making it and serving it the traditional way, and then defrosting and turning it into the spaghetti sauce! 

If you enjoy the large savory chunks of eggplant, peppers, and zucchini, stay with the traditional format.  Give a delicious twist, by serving on top of this amazing buttery pumpkin sage polenta. 

Alternately, blend up the ratatouille, and add some cooked ground beef, or ground turkey, and extra tomato sauce.  Serve it on top of spaghetti pasta. Kind of like a Bolognese-Ratatouille recipe!
Also a great way to sneak some extra vegetables into your family's diet, totally unbeknownst to them! 

Or, if you still have leftovers, try this hearty whole egg bake up! 
My amateur attempt at the spicy tomato-y dish, with baked eggs, inspired by the Shakshuka from the absolutely beautiful cookbook, Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi
You really need to view this cookbook in person.  So. So. Gorgeous.

1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
6 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 eggplants, peeled & cut into 
large pieces
sea salt and ground pepper
2 onions, chopped
1 head garlic cloves, chopped
2 bell peppers (any color), seeded and diced large
2 large zucchini, diced large
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon marjoram or oregano leaves
2 to 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Place tomatoes and juices on a rimmed baking sheet, using your hands to break tomatoes into 3/4-inch pieces.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and bake about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a colander, toss eggplant with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.  Let sit 20 minutes, then squeeze out excess liquid (I do this using a clean tea towel, and wringing out the juices).  In a large pot, heat the remaining 4 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Next add peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bay leaf, marjoram, salt & pepper to pot.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook at a gentle simmer until vegetables are tender but not mushy, approximately 15 minutes.  Season to taste with vinegar, salt & pepper.  Remove bay leaf before serving.

Pumpkin Sage Polenta
Recipe Adapted from: Kitchen Confidante

3 cups water
1 cup corn meal or polenta
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon sage
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 Tablespoons butter

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, whisk together the water, corn meal, and salt.  Bring to a boil, and continue to stir, allowing the corn meal to thicken.  Turn the heat to low, and add the pumpkin, and sage, stir and allow to cook for about 15-20 minutes.  Finally, stir in the butter, and Parmesan cheese, and serve topped with the Ratatouille.


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