Every year I have a couple favorite summer dishes I look forward to, and this is at the top of the list. I make this pasta every year with the first picking of that good old Minnesota Sweet Corn and this one with my first eggplant from my CSA box.
This week my box included every vegetable I needed to make this all time favorite. Eggplant, summer squash, sweet onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Lets not forget those fresh herbs in full bloom on my patio!
This recipe takes a bit of time, but the deep, rich flavors are worth the effort, and it yields enough for delicious leftovers!
I prefer to sauté each veggie separately like I did here. After each one is caramelized, I drain them into a colander over a saucepan to catch all the savory juices. The flavors are much bolder verses roasting them all on a sheet pan in the oven. Although I have also roasted ratatouille, I much prefer this method, and I think you will too.
Once you have all the vegetables sautéd, let them set in colander for another 15 minutes so all the mouth watering juices have a chance to drip into your saucepan. Now take those juices and cook them down to about 1/2 cup. Hang in there…you’re almost done!
Add some fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, hot sauce, and more herbs and fold glaze into your veggies. This is absolutely delicious when made a day to two ahead. Just store in in the refrigerator and bring to room temp or gently heat-up before serving.
Heres are some great ideas for extra Ratatouille:
- Fill an omelet with a spoonful of ratatouille and some crumbled goat cheese.
- Toss ratatouille with hot penne pasta, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a few spoonfuls of pasta water.
- Mix with a few olives, capers, and grated orange zest and pile onto toasted baguette slices as an appetizer.
- Layer lasagna noodles with ratatouille, a little tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and grated cheese, bake until bubbly.
- Butterfly a boneless, skinless chicken breast, pound to and even thickness and layer a slice of prosciutto , a spoonful of ratatouille and a sprinkling of fontina. Roll up and secure with toothpicks, season with salt and dredge with flower and sauté gently.
- Arrange some ratatouille in individual gratin dishes and top with jumbo peeled and deveined shrimp. Greek black olives, crumble feta, and a drizzle of live oil. Bake until the shrimp are pink and everything’s hot and bubbling.
- Build a salad…
Are you ready to start sautéing? Hope so and please don’t panic! This will soon become one of your favorite all time faves too even if you are not an eggplant fan!
- 1 pound eggplant (1 medium globe cut into 1/2 inch chunks)
- kosher salt
- 9 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 medium onion sliced thinly
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 2 medium red bell peppers or 1 red, yellow and orange, cored and sliced
- 2 teaspoon fresh rosemary
- 3 to 4 small summer squash cut into half-moons
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 2 medium tomatoes, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest
- few drops of hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chiffonade
- 2 tablespoons of chopped flat-leaf fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon of fresh mint, chiffonade
If your eggplant is not fresh, toss with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt in a colander and let sink while you prepare the other veggies. I skip this step if my eggplant is fresh from the market or my CSA box.
Sauté the vegetables one at a time
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Scrape into a clean colander or large strainer that’s set over a medium saucepan to catch the juices.
- In the same skillet, heat another 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften and get browned around the edges about 5 minutes. Add the rosemary, lower the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re extremely soft and sweet, another 10 to 15 minutes. Gently fold into the onions in the colander.
- Heat another 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat, and as soon as you see the fist hint of smoke, add the summer squash and 1/4 teaspoon of slat. Shake and stir to distribute the squash slices evenly in the pan so they all get browned. Cook over high heat until tender and nicely browned on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Add to the colander and gently fold with the onions and peppers.
- Finish with the eggplant. If you are salting eggplant to let it drain in sink, dump the eggplant onto some paper towels, and cover with more towels, and pat to blot up surface water. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in the skillet over high heat and add the eggplant (no additional salt) and shake and stir to distribute the cubes evenly in the pan so they all get browned. Cook over high heat until lightly browned on several surfaces, about 5 minutes. Cook until the eggplant is very tender, another 15 minutes. Fold into the other vegetables.
- LAST STEP…..woot woot……but OMG so worth it! I promise! Add the last tablespoon of oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and let sizzle for about 30 seconds, than add the tomatoes and all their juices and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook until the tomatoes collapse slightly and the juices thicken and darkened a bit, 3 to 5 minutes. As you’re cooking, scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze all the cooked-on vegetable juices. Add to the colander, scraping out all the juice from the skillet, and fold everything together.
- Let the vegetables rest, then reduce the juices: Now let the vegetables sit in the colander for 15 to 20 minutes. At that point, you should have a good amount of liquid in the your saucepan. Heat until gently boiling and boil until the liquid is reduced until about 1/2 cup.The flavor should be very bright and intense. Add the lemon juice, zest, hot sauce to taste. Fold this glaze into the vegetables, along with the basil, parsley, and mint. Taste for salt and add more if needed. You can serve now or later…trust me, so good with a couple of runny eggs. Refrigerate the remainder and use a number of different ways I mention above but please share if you have an idea I didn’t mention and comment below.
Question: Do you have a favorite Summer Dish? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Question: How will you use your left-over Ratatouille? You can leave a comment by clicking here.