Tag Archives: eggplant

Roasted Ratatouille

no skillets were harmed in the making of this dish

I usually sauté a ratatouille in stages in a large skillet, adding the tomatoes at the end to bring it all together. Today, I’m going to roast it all in one big dish, even the bacon, still adding some crushed tomatoes at the end. I just wish a had more than a few garlic cloves to throw in, but those few will have to do. I’m going to try to keep all the vegetables cut to the same size, not too small, and use enough olive oil, keeping in mind that the bacon is going to add its own fat. I’m using a smoked, thick-sliced bacon from a local butcher, maybe just 2-3 slices, so it’s not overwhelming. My poor husband will be eating a ribeye and some roasted zucchini, because he has silly opinions of eggplant and mushrooms.

It’s a cold, winter day, so having the oven on is a bonus, one that I would prefer to standing at the stove on a Saturday. I used two old standby Pyrex dishes, the 3 and 4 quart oblong sizes, to fit in all the ingredients, sprinkling the bacon over the tops to brown up and drizzle their bacony goodness all over. The glass baking dishes were a real mess, but I’m giving the dishwasher a chance to redeem them.

Roasted Ratatouille

  • Servings: depends on if you share
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 400°

1 medium-large eggplant

10 oz Baby Bella mushrooms

1 large onion

1 large red bell pepper

I medium-large zucchini

3-5 unpeeled cloves of garlic

3 slices thick bacon

6 oz crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

lots of olive oil

salt & pepper

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

  1. Clean then cut all the vegetables in a large dice; I quartered the mushrooms and cut the zucchini in angled chunks. Toss each separately in olive oil to coat and place in glass baking dish. I kept each vegetable in a separate row in case any were done sooner than the others and needed to be removed—none did. I had too many to all go in one dish. The eggplant went in a dish of its own, topped with the unpeeled garlic cloves.
  2. Salt and pepper all the vegetables, then sprinkle diced bacon over the top. This allows you to see when the bacon is browned and to remove it, if needed.
  3. Roast at 400° for 45 mins. Remove from oven, but keep the oven on. Combine all the roasted vegetables in one dish.
  4. Press roasted garlic out of cloves and mix with tomatoes and herbs. Toss vegetables with the tomato mixture, mounding it in the center of the dish.
  5. Return to oven for about 5 minutes or until hot and a little bubbly.
  6. Serve with lots of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. I prefer this to mixing in the cheese, because it reheats better. Then you can always add the cheese in whatever way you are eating the ratatouille—with polenta or scrambled eggs, for example.

Ratatouille

My husband is eating out all week with job candidates, so I’m taking the opportunity to eat eggplant.

The first ratatouille, or more specifically “Ratatouille Provençale,” I ever made was from my Joy of Cooking (1967, p. 278). When I was young, I didn’t know anything about eggplant, and was surprised to see so many recipes for it in this book. The only eggplant recipes I had seen on TV were the breaded and fried sliced variety, usually smothered in tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. That did not look appetizing to me, but more like the cooks were trying to cover up something that was either tasteless or bad-tasting. When I finally decided to try this casserole, I did feel like the flavors were exotic and rich, even spicy.

I have since learned that recipes vary, and while tonight’s is very close to that first one, I’m adding some mushrooms and bacon, but skipping the zucchini, and the peppers and onions were roasted on the grill last night, which should add a nice twist to the dish. Next time, I’ll try grilling all the ingredients and then doing a quick combine and simmer at the end. Parmesan cheese and olive oil will round out the flavors, but I will miss the parsley I lost in my recent freezer disaster. Some dried marjoram will fill in for the herb.

Ratatouille

  • Servings: 4 as main dish; 8 as a side
  • Difficulty: easy
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Basically a stew, but all the ingredients should be cooked until just done and not mushy. I cook each ingredient separately, and then combine at a simmer for just about 5 minutes, to keep the flavors distinctive. I would not use the 45 minute simmer mentioned in the recipe pictured above.

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

4 slices thick bacon, cooked to chewy doneness and roughly chopped

1 medium eggplant, cut in half inch dice, about 2 1/2-3 cups

1-2 small onions, roughly chopped

1-2 bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon garlic, grated or minced or roasted

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

13 oz good quality crushed tomatoes, drained with liquid reserved (I used Cirio crushed tomatoes)

olive oil for sautéing

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated for garnish

salt and pepper to taste (I like to season each layer lightly)

As mentioned, my onions and peppers had been roasted on the grill, then the peppers were peeled and both were chopped; otherwise, I would cook them using the following process:

  1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and allow to heat for a minute. Add the sliced mushrooms and let sauté until brown without stirring. Stir for another minute or two, then remove to dish. I like to cook mushrooms first in a clean pan for most dishes, so they are allowed to brown and develop flavors without absorbing those of the other ingredients.
  2. Add the bacon slices to the same pan and cook over medium heat to desired doneness. I like chewy bacon, not crisp. remove to cutting board and chop.
  3. To pan with bacon drippings that is still over medium heat, add about 1 tablespoon more olive oil, then the diced eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-10 minutes. The eggplant will absorb all the fat and begin to appear translucent. Remove to a large bowl.
  4. Add 1-2 tablespoons more olive oil over medium heat, then the onions, peppers, and garlic. Cook, stirring often for about 10 minutes, or until done to your liking.
  5. Add back the eggplant and mushrooms. Reduce heat to low. Stir in the drained tomatoes and marjoram, adding any of the reserved tomato juice as needed for a moist but not soupy consistency. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes until heated through.
  6. Remove to serving dish and add cooked bacon and grated cheese.

Save some for topping your scrambled eggs in the morning.

Eggplant Caviar

I couldn’t resist the pile of glorious purple eggplants at the grocery yesterday, even though my husband won’t go near one, as far as eating goes. I didn’t want to make a huge dinner dish just for myself, so I’m making the caviar, which works as a side dish with meat or a snack as a dip for veggies or a spread on crackers or bread. I’m making the recipe from the Nom Nom Paleo iPad app, with the only changes being my use of bacon fat for roasting the garlic bulb and skipping the red pepper flakes. I am hoping that smoky bacon fat will add an interesting flavor to the dish. No, I’m not on a paleo diet, but I like to take from this and that way of eating. I’m most aware of following the low-glycemic index, but I can’t permanently restrict my eating to any one promoted diet. I do like many things about the paleo diet in terms of low sugars, but I picked this recipe for taste. Sweet, smoky, garlicky, and a little chunky. Mmmm.

Eggplant Caviar

  • Servings: about 1 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 400°

1 large eggplant

1 garlic bulb, top cut off to expose cloves (you don’t have to use it all in this dish if you like less garlic)

1 teaspoon bacon fat or Ghee or fat of choice

¼ cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/4-1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly-ground black pepper

1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Optional: ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Prepare garlic and eggplant:

  1. Pierce the eggplant all over with a large meat fork or sharp knife and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Cut off the top of a garlic bulb, place on a square of foil, and top with the teaspoon of fat. Bring up the edges of the foil to make a tightly-sealed pouch. Place the pouch on the baking sheet with the eggplant.
  3. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until the eggplant is wrinkly and slightly collapsed. Set aside to cool a bit.

Prepare the caviar:

  1. Cut open the eggplant and either peel off the skin or scoop out the flesh into a large bowl.
  2. Using a potato masher or two forks or even a food processor, mash the eggplant to desired smoothness.
  3. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves onto a small plate, removing any papery skins, then transfer to the bowl of mashed eggplant.
  4. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and olive oil, the chopped parsley leaves, and salt and pepper. Add pepper flakes, if using.
  5. Refrigerate to let the flavors come together, then think of delicious ways to serve it.