Ratatouille, His-n-Hers

 

The crew of Upward Wing are very compatible; few sources of friction; all maritime marital bliss.  I say this so that you will know I’m NOT complaining but…Captain Peter doesn’t eat eggplant.  This is something I can generally live with, but not during Indian summer when eggplant, summer squash, tomatoes, herbs and peppers are clearly in grand finale stage before winter sets in.  So when I saw this take on ratatouille — sliced and layered rather than diced and mixed together — I knew the mutiny was forestalled another season.

Seriously, how do you not salivate at the sight of such a happily laden produce hammock?

Ratatouille

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1 large eggplant
2 zuchinni
2 yellow squash
4 slicing or 6 Roma tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil

For sauce:
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
Sea salt and pepper
8-10 leaves fresh basil
28 ounces crushed tomatoes

For herb drizzle:
8-10 leaves fresh basil
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh oregano or thyme
~1/4 cup (equal to basil) fresh parsley leaves
2-3 cloves garlic
6 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

To make the sauce, sautee the onion, garlic, and bell peppers in several tablespoons olive oil until they start to soften.  If you add a good teaspoon of salt as you start the sautee it will help them release some liquid and get more delicious

Chop the basil leaves.  For a chiffonade — lovely thin strips that seem to make for the best distribution of flavor and an attractive touch of color — roll the leaves together like a cigar and then slice across the roll.  Like so.
When the vegetables are softened, turn off the heat and add the basil and crushed tomatoes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  In the recipe I started from, they made this in an oven-safe sautee pan — the thing had to be 28″ in diameter — and then arranged the vegetables in a beautiful spiral like some culinary fibonacci mosaic.  With the size of my galley oven, that would have to be one tiny little spiral for about two cups of ratatouille and maybe a tenth of the vegetables in the ingredients list above!  So I went with a deep cake pan that is the EXACT dimensions of my little oven and it turned out great; however you go, get the sauce mixture into said pan and spread it flat with a spatula.

Slice the eggplant, squashes and tomatoes into thin slices — no more than 1/4″ — and layer them in alternating sequence.  Here’s where I made two rows WITH eggplant in the sequence, and two with just squash and tomatoes, though the skipper could also just pick the eggplant slices out.  As you get a handful stacked, nestle them into the sauce.

Cover the pan tightly with foil and place in a preheated 375 degree oven.  Bake for 40 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until vegetables are soft.
Of course, toward the end of the first 40 minutes of baking, the weather radio started to squawk; we were going to be threading the needle between two quite violent thunderstorms approaching us on either side.  Time to put things on the gimbal, turn off the gas, head up top and get the sails down.  Once we cleared the weather, I just turned the gas back on and gave the oven 10 minutes to heat up, then took the foil off and started the 20 minute bake; things turned out splendidly…so you can probably take this in stages if it makes life easier.

During a break, make the herb drizzle — throw all the ingredients into your hand cranked food processor and grind them up until at least the garlic is in tolerably small bits, and things are emulsified.

At this point, I contemplated skipping the ratatouille and just dipping French bread in this.  Delicious…I’ll be using this for other purposes in the future.

Drizzle the herb, garlic oil mixture over the baked vegetables.  As I stood admiring this, I couldn’t help but spoon some of the sauce juices up over the top, to help the herb mix sink in even more.  This is a pretty sauce-heavy version of ratatouille.  Tonight I served it just with grilled chicken, but the leftovers I served over pasta and WOW do I recommend that — I could make just the sauce again for a peppery marinara.

We were going to have simple grilled chicken alongside our ratatouille tonight, but as I looked at the residue of the herb drizzle in my food processor it looked SO good … I just took the blade out (the bowl of my hand-cranked processor is enclosed/no opening), added a bit more olive oil and some lemon juice, and tossed the chicken in there to marinate.  Another part of this recipe worth repurposing.

Today we were delivering Upward Wing across the lake to a boatyard on the South shore to repaint her bottom and get some other work done.  As we pulled through the lift bridge into the canal, the City of New Orleans paddlewheeler was a lovely distraction, though not for Swab Eddy who was diligently holding the foulie coats down.

It started to rain just as we tucked the biminy away in preparation for haul out in the morning, so we took our dinners up to the deck of the marina to enjoy the evening.

Swab Eddy got his own piece of chicken, and then borrowed my sea berth for a quick nap.  Abientot to summer!

Ratatouille
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Ingredients
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 small zuchinni
  • 2 small yellow squash
  • 4 slicing or 6 Roma tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 8-10 fresh basil leaves
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 8-10 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano or thyme
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. To make the sauce, sautee the onion, 4 cloves garlic, red and yellow bell pepper and a teaspoon of salt in the 3 tablespoons olive oil until the vegetables start to soften.  Finely chop the 8-10 basil leaves and add to the sauce off heat.  Stir in crushed tomatoes and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to an oven-safe dish and smooth with a spatula.

  2. Slice the eggplant, squashes, and tomatoes very thinly, no thicker than 1/4".  Layer in alternating pattern and nestle edge-down in sauce.  Cover dish tightly with foil and bake in 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 20-30 minutes, until vegetables soften.

  3. To make herb drizzle, combine additional 8-10 leaves basil, oregano or thyme leaves, parsley, 2-3 cloves garlic, and 6 tablespoons olive oil in food processor.  Pulse until herbs and garlic are finely minced.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle over vegetables as soon as they come out of the oven.

 

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