Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ratatouille ragu

This dish is a great way to celebrate summer's last hurrah. It's packed with late summer produce, so hurry up and make it while you still can! This was inspired by a gnocchi appetizer that Andrew and I had at Highland Kitchen, a great restaurant/bar in Somerville. The gnocchi was topped with a really flavorful mix of roasted veggies, which we immediately decided to try and replicate at home.

This "ragu" (not technically a ragu, since it is meatless) is versatile, and soooo good. Roasting the veggies intensifies their flavors, and the herbs bring everything together. Cooking-wise, this is pretty simple, but it does require a good amount of chopping. We have enjoyed this over gnocchi and pasta, and I think it would also be good with polenta, or with rice, or as a topping for toasted bread, or stuffed into a pita...lots of options. You could also mix in some white beans if you want to add some protein.

This dish is just so summery and delicious - I hope you enjoy it. With the heat wave in Boston right now, it's hard to believe that it's September already. Fall veggies are coming soon...

Ratatouille ragu
Serves 6

2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/8 lb in my case), diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium zucchini (about 1 1/8 lb in my case), diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 red bell peppers, halved, seeds and ribs removed
4 plum tomatoes, halved
6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
3 small red onions, peeled and halved or quartered
Thyme sprigs
Heaping 1/4 cup chopped basil
Heaping 1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting veggies
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 425 deg F. Toss eggplant with with a splash of olive oil and arrange on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and the leaves from a few sprigs of thyme. Repeat with the zucchini. Arrange red pepper halves (skin side up) and tomato halves (skin side down) on a baking pan and place the onion and garlic in any remaining spaces.

Roast veggies in preheated oven. Remove eggplant, zucchini, and onions when they are tender and beginning to brown, and set aside to cool. Remove peppers when skins have browned/blackened and blistered, and place in a tupperware container or plastic bag. Close container and allow peppers to steam for about 15-20 minutes. Remove garlic when it is soft. Let tomatoes roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until much of the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes are soft.

Peel and chop garlic when it is cool enough to handle. Peel peppers after they finish steaming, and coarsely chop the flesh. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and onions. Stir together vegetables, garlic, basil, parsley, and the leaves of a few more thyme sprigs in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

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