Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rattatoulli in 10 minutes

I had lunch in a little restaurant in Avignon, near the ancient wall. The plat du jour was grilled tuna with ratatouille. And it was so different from Julia's (MAFC I 503), so full of little morsels of colorful vegetables al dente, and grand flavor, that I thought it might be 10 minuteable. The little morsels of red pepper, lightly golden zucchini, diced eggplant, and onion sat there on the plate in Provence as a challenge.

After some tries, and a lot of dirty cookware, I conclude that it is possible. (Note that no-stick skillets are cleanable with a good wet wipe, one minute tops.) The trick to 10 minute ratatouille is to be good with a knife. If you can't rough dice an onion in 1 minute, then forget 10 minutes. But really, if it's 15 minutes for this, then it's worth the stretch. It serves six easily. And the ratatouille that's been around awhile gathering character and delicate flavor is much, much better than the fresh--like my wife.

olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced about 1/2 inch.
1 zucchini halved lengthwise and then sliced 3/8 inch thick
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
1 large red pepper, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
optional: three strands of fresh thyme and two basil leaves
  1. 0.00 Heat three pans (two large and one smaller is fine) over high heat
  2. 0.30 Dice the onion and saute it in the small pan, in 1 tablespoon oil, tossing frequently. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. 1.30 Peel the eggplant and cut it into 1 inch dice. Saute it in the second large pan. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. 2.30 Cut the pepper into 1/2 inch dice. Saute the peppers in a large pan, in 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. 3.30 Halve the zucchini lengthwise, slice it 3/8 inch thick, and sautee it in the pepper pan adding an another 1 tablespoon olive oil, tossing when the first side is begins to brown. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. 4:30 Add the tomato paste to the onions and lower heat to simmer
  7. 6.00 Peel and mince the garlic. Add it to the pepper/zuchinni pan and toss.
  8. 7:00 Stem the thyme and make a chiffonade of the basil
  9. 9:30 Using a rubber spatula, scrape the peppers/zuchinni and garlic into the eggplant pan, along with the onion mixture.
  10. 10:00 Add the thyme and toss, correcting the seasoning as necessary. Let stand 5 minutes or more. Garnish with the chiffonade of basil.