Eggplant is one of those ingredients I tend to shy away from when I see it in a recipe. However, the first time I had Ratatouille, at a friends lunch time gathering, made by a local restaurant owner whose husband is French – I almost swooned. The earthiness and richness of the dish, and the combination of flavors was so fabulous, especially when coupled with crusty bread, I had seconds and then took a big bowl home with me.
RATATOUILLE WITH GOAT CHEESE – FAYETTEVILLE PILATES AND BARRE
1/2 cup olive oil
1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
5 garlic cloves, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 yellow squash, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 pounds tomatoes, cored and finely chopped
1 cup loosely packed shredded basil leaves
zest and juice from one lemon
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the eggplant and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 5 minutes, add the garlic, season with salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, along with the zucchini and yellow squash. Cook over moderate heat until lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, along with the onion and bell pepper, cook over moderate heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and two-thirds of the basil, season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat until the tomatoes have broken down and the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining basil along with the lemon zest and juice. Transfer to bowl, sprinkle with the goat cheese and parsley. Drizzle with extra olive oil if desired.
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, October 2011