Sunday Recipe (On Monday): Eggplant Dip

This week’s recipe is super-simple and totally delicious. I made fresh pita to go with it, but it would also be great with purchased pita, naan bread, or even bagel chips.

Preheat oven to 450F.

{you don’t need to cut everything neatly, since it’s going to be almost-puree anyway. if you’re using Japanese eggplants, like I did, just leave the skin on–it’s quite tender.}

Toss all of the following together in a large roasting pan:

  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (or 1/4 cup fresh seeded and diced tomatoes)

Roast for 45-65 minutes, or until the vegetables are fragrant and caramelized. Cool slightly before pulsing in food processor to your desired level of chunkiness.

(We had a lot of eggplants and peppers, so I doubled the recipe and put what we didn’t eat immediately into 1/2 pint jam jars to freeze.)

{if you’re going to do the same, remember to leave 1/2″ of space at the top of the jar to allow for the expansion that comes with freezing!}

{small white bowl to the far right has the eggplant dip. my son, trying his best to look fierce.}

Delicious as an appetizer to Middle-Eastern inspired dishes. Yum!

 

Sunday Recipe: Ratatouille, Like the Movie

Chef Thomas Keller created this special version of ratatouille when he consulted with Pixar studios on the film Ratatouille. I shamelessly capitalized on the appeal of the rat-chef, Remy, to get my 5 year old to eat lots of vegetables by cooking ratatouille in a much-simplified version of Keller’s recipe so that it would look like the dish in the film.

(Just so we’re clear, I’m not recommending the film for young viewers. My young boy knew about Remy from a library book he found that was a movie tie-in—it’s got some really scary sequences.)

{Of course, this dish is best with very fresh, seasonal vegetables. And right now’s the season here in the northeast US!}

For the sauce (piperade)–

1 and ½ peppers (red, yellow, orange, or purple, seeded, ribbed, and chopped finely)
½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 tsp. minced garlic.
1 sprig each of thyme and parsley (or pinch each of the dried herbs)
1 bay leaf

Cook all slowly over medium heat in

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil until the onions are beginning to caramelize; then add 3 finely chopped tomatoes

Cook down for 10 or 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add salt to taste, the spread the sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof dish (about a 9” by 13” size), reserving about 1 tablespoon of the sauce.

Slice into very thin rounds (you may want to try and select vegetables of similar diameter—this is for visual appeal only.

1 long zucchini
1 Japanese (skinny!) eggplant
1 yellow squash similar in diameter and length to the zucchini
4 Roma tomatoes (or other dense, smallish tomatoes; I used Amish Paste)

Arrange the vegetables in the pan on top of the sauce, alternating 1 slice of zucchini, 1 slice eggplant, 1 slice yellow squash, 1 slice tomato—repeat, going back and forth or around and around in the dish, overlapping the vegetables so that each just peeks out behind the other. Don’t be too anxious about this part! Just do the best you can to layer the vegetables evenly.

see? mine's not perfect-looking. It was still really delicious, though.

Bake, covered with a lid or with foil, in a pre-heated 275 degree oven for 2 hours, then uncover and bake 30 minutes more. There should not be much liquid in the pan after the last 30 minutes of baking; if there is, put it on the stove on low heat to reduce the liquid. (This long, slow baking really develops the flavor of the vegetables and gives them a great texture.)

Meanwhile, combine the tablespoon of reserved sauce with:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Some fresh herbs (like chervil, thyme, basil, or parsley), minced

Season with Salt and Pepper to taste, and use as a vinagrette drizzle over the warm ratatouille. Couscous, quinoa cooked in broth, or plain steamed rice is delicious alongside; a fresh baguette would also be delicious!

Enjoy, folks!