Saturday, May 21, 2011

{ Ratatouille }

Ratatouille is one of those French dishes that sounds wayyyy more complicated than it really is.
Touiller----meaning to toss food.
Ratatouille----rat-a-too-ee----a tossed and stewed vegetable and herb dish originating in Nice, France.

In her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Childs says, "Ratatouille perfumes the kitchen with the essence of Provence and is certainly one of the great Mediterranean dishes."

When making Ratatouille, the aroma of this side dish is just as enjoyable as the flavor.  My husband came home from work and in a yum-must-have-some-now voice said, "Wow, Babe! What ever you're making, it smells great!"
This is definitely a dish you start to enjoy long before you've even taken the first bite.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and turn on some favorite music. I suggest San Sebastian's Vintner's White . It is our local wine. Runs about $9.99 a bottle and is made from Muscadine grapes. If you really want to get into the French mood, listen to some Edith Piaf or the La Vie en Rose soundtrack .

Olive Oil for coating
1 medium yellow onion diced (I used a yellow sweet Georgia Vidalia Onion)
4 gloves crushed garlic
1 eggplant peeled and diced
2 yellow squash diced
2 zucchini diced
2 green bell peppers diced
4 large or 6 small Roma tomatoes diced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 tbsp herbes de provence
salt and pepper
sour cream for garnish (optional)
1 pkg frozen puff pastry shells for serving (optional)

 *Lightly coat a large flat skillet with olive oil and place over low to medium heat.
*Add onions and garlic and slow simmer for a minute. This will create the base of aromatic flavor in which all the other vegetables will be stewed.
NOTE: It is important to add the vegetables in the following order based on density and time it takes to make them tender.
*Add eggplant and allow to stew for a minute until almost brown. *Next add squash, zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes.
*Drizzle with more olive oil and toss to evenly coat all the vegetables.
*add herbes de Provence, thyme, salt and pepper
*Continue to slow simmer. You do not want to accidentally scorch the vegetables, so keep the heat on low to medium.
****Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 and place puff pastry shells on a baking sheet. Follow bake time on package which is usually about 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
***Ratatouille is done when all vegetables are tender and stewed. Turn off heat and serve using a slotted spoon into puff pasty shells and garnish with a small dollop of sour cream.

Sealed with a Kiss, Kirsten