This blog’s name was inspired, of course, by the movie Ratatouille, which charmed me with its story, music, and message that anyone can cook. There was really only one recipe to feature today at the end of summer and the beginning of a project extended from a little saffron. Ratatouille — a savory, simple French stew that celebrates in-season squash, eggplant, and tomato.
So here’s the big, I-can’t-believe-this news…
I’m writing a column based on this blog for the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times) called In Our Kitchen. The first one debuts today with an introduction of the column, Danny, and me with recipes for carnitas tacos. The column will be similar to the blog while focusing more on cooking together as a young couple.
You can read it here or pick up a copy of the Times where you’ll see the first column on the front of the Taste section with some pictures of us. You can also read the column as it is in the paper by downloading these two PDF files — Tastecoverileana Tastejump. After this first column, they’ll run my photos of the food we cook! It will be in the paper every other Wednesday. I could not be more excited about this and feel extremely lucky to be given this opportunity. I hope you’ll enjoy the column as much as you enjoy the blog.
This particular recipe for ratatouille is another one from Melissa Clark’s feature on French weeknight stews in last October’s Food & Wine. To update this classic with faster results, she advises to cook the vegetables separately before combining them. The eggplant is peeled to cut down on cooking time, too. I’ll revisit ratatouille with a more traditional method some time (or SK’s version of Ratatouille’s ratatouille), but for now this is a seriously good dinner that may taste even better the next day.
The cooking comes together fairly quickly after some time dedicated to chopping everything. It takes some time, but this step in making dinner slows you down and lets you appreciate the scents released when cutting garlic and basil. And don’t underestimate the power of a cooked onion, which sent its aroma down the hall to greet Danny before he made it to the front door.
quick ratatouille with goat cheese
Cooking the vegetables in batches makes this a quick ratatouille. Though eggplant isn’t cooked very long here, peeling off the vegetable’s deep purple skin cuts down on cooking time and it is pleasantly tender without being bitter. Eggplant will begin to brown almost as soon as you cut into it; make sure to dice it just before you’re ready to go with everything. Goat cheese is perfect with this. Serve warm with a few extra leaves of fresh basil and a white Bordeaux. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a day or so.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium zucchini, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow squash, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 pounds tomatoes, cored and finely chopped
1 cup loosely packed shredded basil leaves, plus a few whole leaves for garnish
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add the eggplant and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it’s almost tender and a bit browned, about 5 minutes. Then add a third of the garlic and a pinch each of salt and black pepper, and cook for 1 minute. Move the eggplant with a slotted spoon to a large plate or bowl to wait.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the zucchini, and the squash to the Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until some of the pieces are browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in another third of the garlic with a pinch each of salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute. Remove the vegetables from the pot and set them on the plate with the eggplant.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the onion, and bell pepper to the Dutch oven, and cook over medium heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the rest of the garlic with a pinch each of salt and black pepper, and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, two-thirds of the basil, and the squash, zucchini, and eggplant. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes break down and the vegetable are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the rest of the basil with the lemon zest and juice. Serve ratatouille on plates with crumbled goat cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a couple fresh basil leaves.
Serves 4. Recipe from Food & Wine.