Ratatouille: Lisa E’s Version

ratatouille grilled 2

These are the vegetables on the grill.  You can broil the eggplant separately in the oven at 450 degrees if you are doing a huge batch and need more room on the grill for the summer squash, peppers, and onions.

 ratatouille roasted 2

The vegetables are done when they are cooked all the way through but aren’t mushy.

 ratatouille tomatoes 2

Cook the tomatoes while the vegetables are all grilling and/or broiling.

ratatouille basil 2

You can use other seasonings for ratatouille such as thyme, bay leaves, or herbes de Provence, but Lisa and I both prefer to simply use a truck load of fresh basil added right as you remove the ratatouille from the heat.

 ratatouille 2

There are as many recipes for ratatouille as there are passionate cooks.  A traditional ratatouille is made by cooking the various ingredients separately first and then layer them in a casserole and then baked.  The main (important components) of ratatouille are: eggplant, tomatoes, summer squash, sweet peppers, fresh basil, and garlic.   There are hundreds of variations of this dish possible- you can use mushrooms, omit the peppers (I don’t digest sweet peppers well and never cook with them), make it chunkier or saucier.  What you must never leave out (if you want it to still be a ratatouille) is the eggplant, summer squash, tomatoes, garlic, and onions.

It should always be made in summer or early fall when all of these ingredients can be had fresh from the garden or from the farmer’s market.

The following version is from Lisa E and involves roasting and grilling most of the different ingredients and then adding them to the pot of cooking tomatoes.   She doesn’t give specific amounts for the ingredients because she never measures them.   My suggestion is to use roughly equal quantities of tomatoes and eggplant, slightly fewer summer squash in proportion, and even fewer sweet peppers, and for one big pot of ratatouille I would use two to three onions.  You can’t use too much fresh basil and the garlic should be to your personal taste.  My preference for a giant pot would be about 10 cloves minced.


Lisa’s Ratatouille

Ingredients:

tomatoes- peeled, cored, seeds squeezed out then coarsely chopped

eggplant, zucchini, red peppers- cut lengthwise into slabs, brush with olive oil, salt  & pepper

onions- quartered, brush with olive oil, salt & pepper

garlic- loads of it finely chopped

basil: chiffonade

In a large heavy bottomed pot heat olive oil (about a quarter cup), add tomatoes and cook at medium high; continue to cook while preparing other ingredients and until tomatoes get nice and broken down and saucy.

I usually roast the eggplant in the oven at 450 while the rest of the veg is on the grill.  Usually timing works out perfect: when veg is all cooked allow to cool enough to handle then coarsely chop it all and add it to the tomatoes along with the garlic.  Simmer until the flavors develop and it gets to the consistency you like, adjust salt & pepper to taste.  Stir in the basil when you turn off the heat.

When it has cooled I usually keep enough out for dinner and the rest goes (in either 2 cup or 4 cup increments) in quart size freezer bags (squeezing out all the air) or in food saver bags to freeze and then vacuum seal when it is frozen.  It isn’t high enough acid to can safely.

When I said it is a big batch technique I mean a full stockpot or if I am really ambitious I have my two biggest pots going at the same time.  That way I do it once during the season and have it stowed away in the deep freeze for meals throughout the year.

Serving Notes: I like it by itself with Parmesan, feta or goat cheese, with polenta, grilled or soft, any kind of pasta.  I have used it to make lasagna too.

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