February 27, 2011


Anyone that loves a good Disney show knows about Ratatouille. It is my all-time favorite movie and it might have just become my all-time favorite healthy meal.

Ratatouille is a popular dish from the French region of Provence that combines eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic and herbs - all simmered in olive oil. It can be served hot, cold or at room temperature, either as a side dish or as an appetizer with bread or crackers. In this recipe, from Cook's Illustrated, we ate it as our main meal and included all the core ingredients except the bell peppers, and the tomatoes and fresh herbs came from our garden!

As wonderful as the finished product tasted, I think the most enjoyable part of cooking this were the aromas permeating the kitchen for the hour and a half it took to make. All the different ingredients and herbs combined to make the kitchen a place I did not want to leave. I will definitely make this again, especially because Jeni's been asking me to add some healthier recipes to my repertoire. So here you go! The recipe below yields 6 good size portions. Enjoy!

2 large eggplants (about 2.5 lbs total) cut into 1 inch cubes
2 large zucchini (about 1.5 lbs total), scrubbed and cut into 1 inch cubes
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 medium ripe tomatoes (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs minced fresh thyme
Ground black pepper

1. Place eggplant in large colander set over bowl.

2. Sprinkle with 2 Tbs salt and toss to distribute evenly.
3. Let eggplant stand at least 1 hour, up to 3 hours.
4. Rinse eggplant well under running water to remove salt and spread in even layer of paper towels.

5. Cover with another triple layer of paper towels.
6. Press firmly on eggplant until eggplant is dry and feels firm and compressed.
7. Adjust 1 over rack to upper-middle position and second rack to lower-middle position.
8. Heat oven to 500.
9. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil.
10. Toss eggplant, zucchini and 2 Tbs oil in large bowl.

11. Divide evenly between baking sheets, spreading in single layer on each.

12. Sprinkle with salt and roast stirring every 10 minutes until well browned and tender, 30 to 40 minutes, rotating baking sheets from top to bottom halfway through roasting time. Set aside.
13. Heat remaining 2 tbs oil in heavy bottomed dutch oven over medium heat until simmering.
14. Add onion, reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and golden brown, 15-20 minutes.
15. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

16. Add tomatoes and cook until they release liquid and begin to break down, about 5 minutes.

17. Add roasted eggplant and zucchini, stirring gently but thoroughly to combine, and cook until just heated through, about 5 minutes.

18. Stir in parsley, basil and thyme.

19. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
20. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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