I love ratatouille. I was making it even before that cute movie with the rat waltzed this dish into the spotlight. Did you know that Thomas Keller consulted on that movie, and he came up with the recipe on which the rat's ratatouille was based? That's why it looked so awesome. After seeing that movie, I wanted to make some of this Frenchy stew immediately. And I would have, except that it was January and this, to me, is summer food.
I therefore usually make ratatouille at least once every summer, and I had been meaning to make it for a few weeks now. I even bought a cute little eggplant at the farm stand thinking that it might end up in some ratatouille. Instead, it lingered on the counter and turned to mush. I suck.
Then I came across this article in the Guardian's blog. In it, Felicity Cloake eloquently and amusingly expounds on ratatouille in all its various permutations. And I was inspired...So here you go:
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch dice
- 3-4 zucchini
- 28 ounce can whole tomatoes*
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1/4 thinly sliced fresh basil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Meanwhile, heat another 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet, add the eggplant, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until the eggplant is tender and a little bit seared. You only want to cook it about half way, which will take about 7 minutes. When the eggplant is sufficiently softened, add it to the onion pepper mixture in the dutch oven.
While the eggplant is cooking, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut each half in half lengthwise again, so that you have 4 long pieces. Cut these pieces across in 1/4 inch segments so that you are left with little quarter-moon pieces. Open the can of tomatoes and leave them in the can. Using kitchen shears, cut the tomatoes into smaller pieces.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the zucchini until the pieces are a little bit brown, and the soft centers are just becoming a bit translucent. Again, you only want them about half-way cooked.
Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add this mixture to the dutch oven and add the bay leaf and thyme.
Gently simmer the contents of the dutch oven until the flavors are melded and the vegetables are tender but not mushy, about 40 minutes to an hour. Stir in the basil and parsley, and season to taste with pepper, and more salt if necessary.
*I know that it probably seems wacky to use canned tomatoes in the height of summer, but I find that fresh tomatoes tend to have a flavor that is too lacking in assertiveness for this dish. Plus, canned tomatoes are more economical for me right now, as my tomato plants turned out to be super sad specimens this year.
If I did make this with fresh tomatoes, however, I would consider roasting them first.
I love ratatouille with pork, and there just happened to be a lovely pork tenderloin in the freezer. Rather than simply brushing it with salt, pepper, and oil and grilling this tenderloin (which is yummy), we decided to go oldschool.
The rosemary in the pork's sauce was a perfect counterpoint to the basil and thyme in the ratatouille. We had some pork tenderloin, some ratatouille, and some garlic mashed potatoes, and we were in Happy Fat Land.
We used to make this recipe all the time, and we sort of OD'd on it. It seemed, though, that it was time to brush the dust off of its sheltering folder. And wow. This tenderloin is easy, delicious, and healthy. Why had we neglected it for so long?
Pan-Seared, Oven Roasted Pork Tenderloin with a Rosemary Vermouth Pan Sauce
- 1 pork tenderloin
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 1/4 cup vermouth
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1-2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
Coat the tenderloin with salt and pepper, and in a large skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons canola oil over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, sear the tenderloin on all sides until it is golden brown (about 4 minutes per side).
Place the tenderloin on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook in the center of the oven until the internal temperature reads 135 degrees. Remove the tenderloin and allow it to rest.
In the meantime, melt the butter in the same skillet that was used to sear the tenderloin. Add the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of water, and the shallots. Over medium heat, cook the shallots until soft, about 15 minutes.
Increase the heat to high and add the vermouth. If there are any brown bits remaining on the bottom of the pan, scrape them up with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. When the vermouth has almost completely evaporated, add the chicken stock and a teaspoon of the rosemary.
Over high heat, simmer the stock until it has been reduced to a thick sauce. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, and the rest of the rosemary if desired. (In the winter, we like to use all of the rosemary, but in the summer we prefer a more mild rosemary flavor.)