D. and L. came over for dinner last night, and I made a vegan meal with ratatouille, grilled portobello mushroom and couscous. Ratatouille is a provençal vegetable stew made famous by the Disney animation movie, and generally consists of eggplants, zucchini, onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. There are many, many different versions and ways as there are cooks in the kitchen. The recipe for refined and layered version made in the movie Ratatouille is by Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se fame, and is actually not ratatouille but something called Confit Byaldi. Last night, I made a general, easy recipe combining lots of different recipes.
- 1 eggplant (about 1lb)
- 2 zucchini
- 1 yellow squash
- 2 red onions
- 3 small bell peppers
- 4-5 firm but ripe tomatoes (1 1/2 lb)
- 6 garlic cloves
- 4 tbs chopped parsley
- bouquet garni (thyme and parsley)
- lots of good olive oil
- Slice eggplants, squash and zucchinis 1/4″ inch thick. (I prefer lengthwise, but rounds are fine) Sprinkle salt and put them aside for 30 minutes in a colander to sweat.
- Meanwhile, slice all the vegetable lengthwise. Remove seeds from tomatoes before slicing (and if you want to get fancy, remove skin as well).
- Wipe moisture off eggplants and zucchinis with paper towel, and saute them (both sides) in olive oil in batches until they are golden. Set aside.
- Saute onions until they are slightly wilted in olive oil. Add bell peppers. Saute until they are soft (10 minutes). Add garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato slices and bouquet garni. Cover and cook about 10 minutes in low heat. Uncover and reduce liquid.
- You can add zucchinis and eggplants and mix them altogether, or if you have patience, layer them with bell pepper and tomato mixture. Take out 2/3 of bell pepper. Layer eggplants and zucchini. Sprinkle parsley. Layer bell pepper then eggplant. Sprinkle parsley. Top it with bell pepper/tomato mixture. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.
- Cook uncovered until only 1/2 cup sauce remains occasionally basting the vegetables.
- Serve it over cooked coucous and grilled portobello mushroom. To grill the mushroom, remove stems. Clean the cap with damp paper towel. Splash some olive oil and put the smooth side down first on a hot grill pan. Sprinkle the underside of the cap with chopped garlic, parsley, lemon zest and olive oil. Flip to finish cooking.