Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ratatouille... the dish, not the movie.

To save money, I shop based on the ads of the week - if I see a certain vegetable or protein on sale that week, I will plan my weekly cooking around that item.  It allows me to save money and keep expanding my repertoire of recipes.

Eggplant was on sale for $1.00 each, so I declared this week to be eggplant week!  I picked out the biggest honking eggplant out of the bunch, and brought it home to meet it's maker, aka my Santoku knife and my stainless steel pan.

After cooking with eggplant, I promtly declared eggplant week OVER!  I'm really tired of eating eggplant - that big honking eggplant provided a lot more servings than I anticipated!  

My first thought of cooking with eggplant was to make beef and eggplant lasagna.  I then remembered Ratatouille.

No, not the adorable Disney movie that I watch obsessively every time it's on TV like The Incredibles... the dish that was prepared in the movie for the critic Ego.  I don't cook with eggplant often (err ... ever) so I figured I would go for the gusto and find a dish that used eggplant prominently.

Today's recipe is courtesy of Everyday Food, October 2010, the issue with mac and cheese on the cover.  

It smells SO good when it cooks.

Ingredients: (Makes 3 quarts.  I halved this recipe.)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large eggplant (1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 large yellow onions (1 pound total), diced large
  • 1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
  • 2 bell peppers (any color), seeded and diced large
  • 2 large zucchini (1 pound total), diced large
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram or oregano leaves (I used dried.  Don't hurt me.)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar (I find this to be optional.  It doesn't add much to the flavor.)
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place tomato and juices on a rimmed baking sheet.  Use your hands to break the tomato into smaller pieces.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bake until thickened, about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Or, you can cheat like I did, because I forgot to buy whole canned tomatoes, and use a can of already diced tomatoes.  No one will judge you!

2.  In a colander, toss the eggplant with 1.5 teaspoons of salt.  Let sit for 20 minutes, then squeeze out excess liquid.  (I forgot to do this.  I didn't notice a difference.)  

3.  In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot with a lid, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, and cook until onions and garlic are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add peppers and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

4.  Add tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, bay leaf, and marjoram or oregano (I used oregano) to the pot.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to simmer.  Reduce heat to medium low, partially cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but not mushy.  Season to taste with vinegar, salt and pepper.  

Remove the bay leaf before serving!

Serving suggestions include serving this as a side dish, over pasta, with baked eggs, or as phyllo wraps.  I highly recommend serving this over pasta:

I first tried it with rice, and the flavor was so bland, I couldn't bring myself to finish the serving.  I felt so disgusted eating the ratatouille, I wasn't sure if I could bring myself to finish the rest I had in my fridge.  

For dinner, I cooked some whole wheat pasta, heated up the ratatouille, poured it over the pasta, and heated up two Trader Joe's tenderloins to go with my pasta.  This version of dinner (I couldn't go full vegetarian, I can't do it!  I also went to the gym, so I needed protein!) was delicious beyond belief.  At first I wasn't a fan of this dish, which made me sad since I usually love everything out of Everyday Food, but over pasta, the dish was saved.


And remember what Remy said:  "DON'T HORK IT DOWN!"  Happy vegetarian eating!


  1. I'm so going to try this this weekend. I've been looking for more healthy dishes to cook since I love to cook but need to stop making cookies and sweets. lol.

  2. Happy cooking! My ideas for adding protein to the dish would be to add some sliced sausage (maybe Hilshire Farms?) to get a shade more flavor in there.

    My boss also made this over the weekend, and when she was eating it, she put a little sour cream on top, and she loved it immensely.