RATATOUILLE WITH FRESH ROSEMARY
by Renee Behnke and Cynthia Nims
My friend Lydie Marshall taught me a trick she uses when making ratatouille to give it wonderful flavor. She drains the juices from the cooked vegetables, reduces them, then stirs them back in to the vegetables to add concentrated flavor. To do so, scoop the vegetable mixture into a fine mesh strainer placed over a bowl and let the juices drip out on their own for 20 to 30 minutes; don't be tempted to press on the vegetables. Return the juices to the skillet and boil until they are reduced to a thick syrup. Pour this back over the vegetables and quickly toss to blend.
When fresh plum tomatoes are at their summertime best, use them in place of the year-round canned plum tomatoes called for here; you'll need about 2 cups of peeled, seeded, and diced tomato.
Makes 8 Servings
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
• 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
• 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
• 1 large yellow onion, diced
• 1 medium eggplant, diced
• 2 medium zucchini, diced
• 6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
• 1 can (28 ounces) whole plum tomatoes, drained and diced
• 1 cup lightly packed slivered fresh basil leaves
• Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bell peppers and onion with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender and aromatic. Spoon the mixture into a large bowl.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil in the skillet. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the eggplant to the bell peppers.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil in the skillet, add the zucchini with a pinch of salt, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender. Transfer to the bowl with the other vegetables.
4. Heat the remaining i tablespoon olive oil in the skillet. Add the garlic, parsley, and rosemary and sauté for about 1 minute, until the garlic is aromatic but not browned. Stir in the tomatoes (with their liquid) and cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in the basil, then return all the vegetables to the pan. Cook gently, stirring often, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the flavors are well blended. The vegetables should be tender but not mushy. (Strain the vegetables and reduce the cooking liquid, if you like; see above.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Menu Ideas: Ratatouille is not only a great side dish for everything from Lamb Chops to Roasted Chicken, it can also be a delicious filling for an omelet or spooned over a bowl of freshly cooked pasta and tossed with Parmesan cheese. You can serve ratatouille hot, at room temperature, or chilled.
Do-Ahead Tips: I think this dish is even better the next day, so by all means consider making the ratatouille a day or two before you plan to serve it.