Both a Side Dish and an Entrée: Ratatouille

When it comes to eggplant, there are only two ways I will eat it: eggplant parmesan or ratatouille. It isn’t that I don’t like eggplant any other way; I just normally prefer some other vegetable. Coincidently, both of these dishes can be served either as a side dish or as the main entrée. The parmesan would probably come with a little pasta while the ratatouille can be served with rice or even just some good bread.

As a side dish, I would probably serve the ratatouille with chicken parmesan or some other Italian dish, although it does go great with other chicken or beef dishes, as well.

There are a couple ways to make ratatouille, some faster than others, but the basics are generally the same. I will admit, my way has a few extra steps than some, but I think the end results are worth it. Just remember that ratatouille is a casserole, which means all the ingredients will be finished together in one heavy pan in the oven. I also like to cook each of the ingredients separate to start.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, you can easily remove the skins by following this simple process: Use a sharp knife and cut a shallow “x” just through the skin on the bottom of the tomato. Bring a pot of water to a boil, boil the tomatoes for 1 minute and then chill in an ice bath. The skin should peel easily starting at the cuts.

Whether you cook everything in one batch at the same time or do as I do and cook it in small batches first, pick up a vegetable medley and make a batch of ratatouille.

Ratatouille

2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise, cut in ½-inch pieces
2 yellow squash, quartered lengthwise, cut in ½-inch pieces
1 large eggplant, cut in ½-inch cubes
2 green (or 1 red & 1 green) bell peppers, cut in 1-inch pieces
4 to 6 beefsteak tomatoes, skinned & rough chopped
1 large yellow onion, small diced
4 cloves garlic, fine diced
1 to 2 C olive oil
1 can tomato sauce
5 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary, chopped fine
2 t thyme
Tabasco to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the zucchini with a little of the garlic in a generous amount of the olive oil until they just start to turn translucent. Place in a bowl while you repeat this process with the yellow squash, then the eggplant and finally the peppers.

 Place a generous amount of oil in your roasting pan and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the tomatoes and sauce and let simmer until the tomatoes start to break down stirring occasionally. Add all the ingredients using only a little salt, pepper and Tabasco and stir together good.

Cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes or until all the veggies are tender. Season the ratatouille to taste with more salt, pepper and Tabasco as needed before serving.