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Ratatouille - Provençale vegetable stew

This recipe is best made in the fall when the vegetables needed for it are cheap and plentiful. It can be made with any proportion of vegetables to your choice or what is available. Freeze it for use in the winter when we want a breath of summer to help us last through another New Hampshire winter.

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant weighing about 1 lb.
  • 3-4 zucchini (banana size not garden monsters)
  • 3-4 summer squash (same)
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and thickly chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes or 14 oz tin plum tomatoes
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed or even more
  • 4 or more bell peppers - various colors, de-seeded, cored and cut into 2" squares
  • ½ c olive oil - don't stint on the olive oil and think you're being healthy.
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 leaves fresh basil
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
IMPORTANT: DON'T CUT VEGETABLES TOO SMALL OR THEY WILL BECOME MUSHY

Method

1. Cut eggplant into 2" cubes and place in colander

2. Quarter lengthwise the zucchini and summer squash, then cut into 2" pieces and place in same colander. Sprinkle generously with salt, and leave to drain in sink for at least ½ hour. The salt will draw out any bitterness along with excess moisture. Rinse vegetables and leave to drain dry.

3. Heat large pan, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add oil, then add onions and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until just softening, but not browning.

4. Add drained zucchini, eggplant and summer squash and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat. The vegetables need to be frying not steaming, and browning slightly.

5. Add peppers and cook for 3 minutes.

6. Skin the tomatoes by putting them in a bowl of boiling water for 1 minute, then drop into cold water, remove skin, quarter and remove seeds.

7. Add crushed tomatoes, basil and thyme to pan, season lightly with salt and pepper.

8. Cook gently with lid on for ½ hour then remove lid and cook for another 30 minutes to 1 hour until vegetables are tender, liquid is reduced but the vegetables are still recognizable.

9. You could also cook this in the oven with or without a lid for a more concentrated flavor.

NOTE: don't cut back on the oil, it really is very important for the final flavor. Store in the fridge. Serve hot, cold or warm as a side dish or salad. Add a variety of beans for a vegetarian meal.

Cut slices of French bread and broil, topping with ratatouille as an appetizer. Fill an omelet with ratatouille; serve over pasta with cooked, sliced chicken. Eat on its own with fresh, crusty bread. There is no need to stick to above quantities, this recipe is not written in stone. There are as many recipes for Ratatouille as for meat loaf, so don't worry if you don't have identical quantities. Add lots of fresh chopped herbs just prior to serving. Put ratatouille in 9" pie plate to heat and break fresh eggs into hollows and bake until eggs are set.

Above all - ENJOY!


Oonagh Williams, proprietor of Royal Temptations, has a Culinary Arts degree, is a qualified teacher and offers a Personal Chef and Catering Service. She can be seen frequently on WMUR ABC's Channel 9 Cooks Corner. Contact Oonagh on 424-6412 or visit her web site at Geocities.com/CookingWithOonagh.
 

Send your questions or comments to CookingWithOonagh@yahoo.com
Last modified: Nov. 19, 2000
For more FREE recipes visit: http://www.Geocities.com/CookingWithOonagh