Summer always brings the some of the best dishes. No doubt because there are bountiful veggies, especially in the PNW. Not having the privilege of having a garden of my own, I normal wait around until friends or neighbors are elbow deep in tomatoes, zucchini, and other random veggies. This is when I love to make ratatouille. It is so versatile, especially with left overs, and pairs with so many things. That being said, it has a few steps and the important part is to season with salt and peppers on each step to build the flavor as you go. Using fresh ingredients at the peak of the season is almost every chef's dream, and I am blessed to be able to provide this to our families this week.
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium zucchini, cut into cubes
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch dice
6 large cloves garlic, chopped
6 large tomatoes, cut into cubes, with their juices
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Kitchen equipment needed:
Large Sautee pan, wooden spoon, and a large plate to rest ingredients.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the eggplant and season with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and starting to brown, about 10 min or so. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add a little oil back to the pan and sauté the zucchini, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Remember to season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the plate and set aside.
Add two more tablespoons of oil to the pan and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for about 3 minutes more. Do not brown. Add the tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, thyme, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes (if using) and ¾ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down into a sauce, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cooked eggplant to the pan; bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is soft. Add the zucchini and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, or until just warmed through. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Sprinkle with fresh basil and thyme, drizzle with a little olive oil if desired, and serve warm or chilled. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
I hope you enjoy...