Blogs, Recipes

DELICIOUS RATATOUILLE

It’s ratatouille season! 

Ratatouille is a classic summer French style stew, it’s fun to say and even has an adorable Disney movie named after it!

Ratatouille is packed with summer vegetables: tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers and it’s pretty easy to make!

With a little imagination, there are endless ways to serve ratatouille. For Sunday dinner, toss it with pasta or alongside grilled chicken or fish. Or for an easy weeknight dinner, serve with a dollop of goat cheese or with a fried egg on top. It’s even tasty straight from the fridge as a snack (it’s delicious cold)! Seriously the possibilities are limitless! 

For the tomatoes, I love the brand Pomi! They only have one ingredient: TOMATOES! You can find Pomi chopped tomatoes in the canned vegetable aisle. Pomi is usually on the top shelf. 

Looking for wine to pair with Ratatouille? Scout & Cellar 2018 VEINTE MALBEC, Lush and fruit-forward with blueberry, black plum and wildberry jam balanced by mocha on a fresh, well-structured frame with round tannins and a lingering finish. DELICIOUS!

INGREDIENTS

  • 26.46 oz Pomi Chopped Tomatoes
  • 14.5 oz Diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 1 medium eggplant, diced into cubes
  • 1 large red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, cut into ¾ squares
  • 2 medium zucchini , diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided, more to taste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit 

Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper for easy clean-up, if desired.

On one baking sheet, toss the diced eggplant with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until lightly coated. Arrange the eggplant in a single layer across the pan, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and set aside.

On the other baking sheet, toss the bell pepper, and zucchini 1 tablespoon of olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer. 

Place the eggplant pan on the middle rack and the other vegetables on the top rack. Set the timer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. 

Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and caramelizing on the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 

Add the tomatoes, and use a wooden spoon to stir any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan into the mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-low, or as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.

Once 15 minutes are up, remove both pans from the oven, stir, and redistribute the contents of each evenly across the pans. This time, place the eggplant on the top rack and other vegetables on the middle rack.

Bake until the eggplant is nice and golden on the edges, about 10 more minutes (the eggplant will be done sooner than the rest). Remove the eggplant from the oven, and carefully stir the eggplant into the simmering tomato sauce.

Let the zucchini and bell pepper pan continue to bake until the peppers are caramelized, about 5 to 10 more minutes. Then, transfer the contents of the pan into the simmering sauce. Continue simmering for 5 more minutes to give the flavors time to combine.

Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon olive oil, the fresh basil, dried orengo and red pepper flakes. 

Season to taste with additional salt and black pepper.

Serve in bowls, with additional chopped basil, or black pepper on top (all optional). 

Like all stews, this ratatouille’s flavor improves as it cools. It’s even better reheated the next day. Ratatouille keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for 4 days, or for several months in the freezer.

http://www.scoutandcellar.com/whiskawaykitchen

Recipes

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite Italian comfort foods.
The one thing to keep in mind when cooking eggplant, is eggplants hold onto moisture, like a sponge. So if you’re not careful you can end up with a mushy mess.

So the best method to make eggplant parmesan is to pull the moisture out of the eggplant prior to frying it.

How do we pull moisture out of the eggplant?

You sprinkle salt on the eggplant slice and let them sit for 45 minutes to one hour.The salt pulls out the moisture from the eggplant. 

It also helps to cut the bitterness of the vegetable and makes it “sweat”. You will notice little drops of moisture on the surface of the disks. Removing the moisture from the eggplant will prevent it from releasing it during cooking. 

After the 45 minutes, all you have to do is just pat them dry and dust off the excess salt and then you’ll be ready to start making your eggplant parmesan! I guarantee you will have a much crispier and less soggy eggplant parmesan dish! 

Now of course, you can bake or roast the eggplant for eggplant Parmesan, and they are tasty but frying the eggplant gives the dish a deep caramelized flavor that can not be mimicked by baking. 

I like my eggplant a tad thick so I slice mine about ¼ thick, using a sharp knife. Grab two shallow dishes, crack two eggs in one dish and whisk. I like to add some seasoning, like granulated garlic and black pepper, to my whisked eggs but that is totally up to you. Pour 1 ½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs in the other dish. I love cheese and feel you can never have too much so I sprinkle ¼ cup of grated Parmesan into the breadcrumbs and whisk until combined. 

Take each slice, dip it into the egg mixture, roll in the bread crumbs and shake off any excess. Place the breaded eggplant slices on a plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated. 

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. I always use my cast iron skillet but any skillet will work. I have become a big fan of cast iron in the last year. Check out my Tips & Tricks page for why. 

Once the skillet is hot, slowly slide two-three breaded eggplant slices into the oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, they should be a nice golden brown. The first batch will take longer than the rest as the oil heats up. You will want to keep a close eye on them and watch out for oil splatters. 

Line a large sheet pan with foil, this will make for an easy clean up. Add a layer of eggplant slices then dollop 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn’t to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. The more cheese the better, in my opinion. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. I use the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown – you don’t have to, but if you do, watch it carefully!

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh basil. It reminds me of my grandparents’ backyard when I was a child. My grandfather, Papa, always had a basil plant in his backyard. Here’s a great tip for cutting basil. Stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll up like a cigar. Then make thin slices from one end of the basil cigar to the other. Sprinkle on top of your eggplant parmesan and serve. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil, for lightly pan-frying
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 cups whole milk mozzarella shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves sliced, for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Salt both sides of your eggplant slices and place them in a large colander in the sink. Let the liquid drain for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

When your eggplant slices have finished draining liquid, brush off the excess salt.

In 2 shallow plates, add breadcrumbs to one and whisk eggs and in the other. Dip both sides of the eggplant slice into egg mixture then cover with breadcrumbs, shaking off the excess. Place on a plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. Once the skillet is hot, add two-three eggplant slices at a time to the skillet and cook on both sides until golden brown, remove and set on a large plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until you’ve pan-fried them all.

On a large sheet pan, add a layer of eggplant slices then using dollop 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn’t to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. I use the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown. 

Serve hot and top with sliced basil.