Last week was the end of my 11 week Running Class that I am so fortunate to be a part of. Occasionally, before we begin another series of fun classes, we enjoy an evening of good food, conversation and of course, adult beverages. We always have such fun, both in class and out! Don’t get me wrong, our fierce leader Sarah works us hard and we love her even though we may throw her a few *#*#*#*#* words at times, all in fun of course! I love these gals!
Since Runners tend to be hungry almost all the time, and I had an abundance of summer produce plus some yummy organic tri -color peppers I picked up at Trader Joe’s, I decided why not make my Ratatouille since it makes a enough to feed 16 hungry runners or more! Only problem was I had no eggplant and no time to make another trip to the store….plus eggplant tastes much better from the garden. So why not substitute the broccoli from my latest CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box? Seriously I just love CSA! My boxes are full of local organic produce and it’s like getting a big beautiful present every Wednesday! Check out my first box here.
Every ingredient in my Ratatouille was from my box except for my peppers……look how pretty this is! To be honest, this is just as delicious with broccoli so I didn’t miss the eggplant and I don’t think my guests did either. In fact, my husband is not a big eggplant fan……crazy I know…….so I made him happy too because he knew there’d be left overs. Or at least he was hoping so and he was right?
So normally you’d see yummy chunks of purple eggplant and zucchini harmonizing with all those yummy red, yellow and orange peppers but seriously, this is really good with broccoli when you’re in a pinch like I was. Besides, I make ratatouille a couple times a season so why not try something a bit different? It worked?
Cooking each vegetable separately, draining them in a colander over a sauce pan, before warming them together with a sauce of tomatoes, garlic and herbs does take a bit of extra time but ensures that each vegetable is perfectly tender and not over cooked. I can’t remember where I saw this technique but since I started sauteing each veggie separately verses roasting them all together, I haven’t made it any other way. Of course, if you’re pressed for time, feel free to cheat but this way is soooo much tastier.
After cooking each veggie separately, I placed them in my colander over a saucepan to catch all the yummy juices which I used to make my lovely tomato sauce for my pasta. I used good quality canned tomatos in this step because it’s not quite tomato season up here in Minnesota. If you have about 6 ripe tomatoes, peel them, seed them and coarsely shop them, or do what I did, and use canned?
I stirred in some freshly chopped basil, parsley, oregano, and the juices from all my veggies into my Muir Glen Tomatoes, simmered this for a few minutes and than stirred in all my veggies and warmed this through before stirring into my pasta. Be sure to keep some of that salty, starchy pasta water in case it seems dry.
Ratatouille is normally served tossed with pasta which is what I did for my runner friends, but its also great served on its own as a side dish. Top leftovers with a runny poached egg on top (which is my favorite way to eat Ratatoulli) and my hubby prefers a brat. It’s also great on a pizza, as an appetizer served with thin slices of tasted bagueette or stuff it into a chicken breast and bake. YUM! The sky is the limit…
1/2 cup olive oil
1 small yellow onion, sliced thin (about 1 cup)
8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 head of broccoli broken into florets
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small yellow, red and orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped or sliced thin
1 pound of pasta
3 medium-size zucchini cut into 1/2 inch thick quarter-moon pieces
6 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped, OR 2 cans (28 ounce each) diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup coarsely shopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano
a few springs of fresh mint (optional)
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 wedge Parmesan cheese (at least 2 ounces), for garnish
1 cup or so of fresh mozzarella cubed (optional)
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the onion is golden and the garlic fragrant, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer the onion mixture to a large colander with a saucepan under to catch any juices, being careful to remove all the garlic.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive to the skillet and heat over medium heat. When hot, add the peppers, season them with salt and pepper. Cook the peppers for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are soft. Using a slotted spoon transfer to bowl with onions.
3. Toss your broccoli with oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. It will turn a bright green and be crisp tender.
4. Heat another tablespoon 0f the oil and when hot add the zucchini. Season it with salt and pepper. Cook the zucchini until crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the zucchini to the bowl with the other vegetables.
5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the fusilli pasta (or ziti or penne) and cook according to the package directions.
6. Add the tomatoes, parsley, basil, oregano and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper to the skillet. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until hot, about 4 minutes.
7. In a separate saucepan, heat the other juices that have drained off your vegetables under colander and add lemon zest and the juice of a lemon and cook about 5 minutes or till it’s reduced slightly and a bit thickened, about 4 minutes. Add to the tomatoes mixture with some chopped mint if you’d like.
8. Add the vegetables and any liquid to the bowl to the tomato mixture and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. There should be quite a bit of liquid in the skillet with the ratatouille.
9. Drain the pasta in a colander, setting aside 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
10. Transfer the pasta to the large bowl and add the ratatouille. Stir gently to combine. If the pasta seems too dry, add some of the pasta cooking water. Add the cheese cubes and stir gently.
11. Transfer the ratatouille and pasta mixture to a serving patter or pasta bowls. Using a vegetable peeler, shave curls of the Parmesan cheese over the pasta and serve immediately.