Fresh Basil Ratatouille
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Taking a little extra time with individual ingredients coaxes the best from each. The result is an exciting dish with lots of flavor variation in every bite. Careful cutting turns this home-style, rustic stew into a company-worthy mosaic. If you’re a little less casual in your cuts, it will still taste great, but aim for pieces of approximately equal size for even cooking. Fresh basil at the end adds bright, fresh flavor.
Ratatouille makes a great accompaniment for roasted chicken, or as a vegetarian entrée served over a steaming bowl of polenta. Look for fire-roasted diced tomatoes for added complexity.
Select a small to medium eggplant with firm, smooth, shiny skin. Unlike many other fruits (yes, eggplant is a fruit), eggplants should be light for their size. Purchase the eggplant no more than a day or two before cooking as it can become bitter with time. Some people believe that eggplants with a dash-shaped mark on the blossom end have fewer seeds–and therefore are less bitter–than those with a round mark; others disagree.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party
Recipe Coursemain course, vegetable
Dietary Considerationmain course, vegetable
Taste and Texturegarlicky, herby, savory
Type of Dishvegetable
- 1 medium-small globe eggplant (about ¾ pound)
- 1 medium green zucchini
- 1 medium golden zucchini or crooked-neck squash
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 medium red bell pepper
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more, if needed
- Kosher salt
- 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
- One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- ½ cup roughly chopped or torn fresh basil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Cut the eggplant, green and golden zucchini, and onion into ¼-inch dice, placing each in a separate bowl. (You can combine the two types of zucchini.) Cut the top and bottom off the red bell pepper, cut in half top to bottom, and remove the seeds. Lay each half skin side up on a cutting board and give it a good whack with the flat side of a cleaver or chef’s knife to flatten it. Turn it over and, holding the knife almost parallel to the red pepper and work surface, carefully skim off the internal veins. Cut the pepper into ¼-inch dice.
Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. I like to use a nonstick pan for this-it allows the vegetables to brown nicely without excessive oil or sticking. When the olive oil is hot, add the eggplant and sprinkle it with 1 teaspoon salt. Wait a minute or two before stirring to allow the eggplant to begin to take on some color. Alternate stirring and leaving it to sit a minute or so until the eggplant softens and is lightly browned all over. Remove the eggplant to a large serving bowl and set aside.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan, then add the onions and garlic. When the onions are softened and light golden, add the red peppers. Sauté another minute to soften them, and then add the zucchini and 1 teaspoon salt. Add more olive oil as needed to keep the vegetables from sticking. When they are finished cooking, the vegetables should be tender but not at all mushy.
Return the eggplant to the pan and add the tomatoes with their juices. Stir and sauté to heat everything through and combine it well. (To make ahead, cool then refrigerate in a tightly covered container for up to 1 day. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, or serve cool or at room temperature.)
Stir in the torn basil and season with pepper and additional salt to taste before transferring to the serving bowl.
2008 Joey Altman