Tuesday, January 22, 2008

a little bowl of heaven...

... the real name is ratatouille... and it's better than the movie...

I got this recipe from becki, and looked up a couple online, than put them all together to make my own version. All recipes were basically the same, just small differences, so feel free to take liberties and experiment and come up with your own twist...

*also be warned I don't really measure things, hmmm (mom) who did I learn that from?

this is what you need:
An eggplant (whatever size you feel like getting, but medium works for me)
2 zucchini
1 green pepper
1 small onion
about 5 or 6 tomatoes
(fresh are kind of spendy so you can use canned chopped...I scored a big bag of almost to ripe for a dollar at my organic produce market...deal of the week)
a big bunch of basil
Kosher salt (so much better than table salt)
and lots of garlic

This is what you do...

pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice the eggplant in half brush with olive oil and put on baking sheet cut side down. cook the eggplant for like 10 minutes till the skin starts to barely wrinkle. All this is doing is cooking out some of the bitter taste of the eggplant, I personally love the bitter taste of eggplant so I sometimes skip this step, but it is good either way.

while the eggplant is cooking chop your onion and saute till slightly translucent in a bit of olive oil. set aside

chop zucchini, green pepper, and tomato into chunks. slice up your mushrooms...

when the eggplant is done and cool enough to handle chop that into chunks too...

than you layer, I use a dutch oven, but you could use anytype of casserole dish.

I start with a little olive oil in the bottom, I crush about two cloves of garlic in, throw in some basil and than start layering the zucchini, eggplant, peppers, mushrooms and cooked onion.

After the first layer drizzle some olive oil, crush some garlic, add some chopped basil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Repeat layering until you use up your veggies... I usually layer twice.... I use a generous amount of garlic and a generous amount of basil... I end with tomatoes on the top, some basil and give it a good sprinkle of salt.

Turn you oven down to 350 cover and bake for as long as you want... I usually cook it for about 3 hours.... this dish is awesome if you cook it and let it sit overnight, but cooking it for a couple of hours and than letting it sit works to... this also makes a big pot of it, so you should have leftovers for the next day... the flavor just intensifies if it rests overnight, you can also serve this hot or cold...

Now how to serve it....

I buy Polenta pre made in a tube... you can get this at freddys in the healthy section, or trader joes has it for a good price... you can also buy it in dry form and cook it up like grits, you can use the grits creamy, or how I do it...

I cut the polenta in slices and than quarter the slices... In a frying pan I heat about a tablespoon of olive oil and crushed garlic... I add my polenta and cook it up, just barely browning it... it will break up a little so don't be concerned if this happens..

scoop your polenta into a nice sized bowl, top with a big scoop of ratatouille.

we like whole milk fresh mozzarella in this house, so we add some of that and serve with a good crunchy french bread... It does not look like it would be so good, but believe me, this stuff is golden...

who knew that only a couple of ingredients could come together and make such a yummy thing.