Last August, I posted about ratatouille. Here it is again. Why won’t I shut up about ratatouille? First, because I want to demonstrate that – slowly and unsurely – I am becoming a better photographer. Second, because I tried a new way of cooking ratatouille that I actually like way better.
“There is much debate on how to make a traditional ratatouille.” Some version of this sentence appears on the Wikipedia page of just about every dish known to man, and it brings up one of my least favorite concepts in food: “Authenticity.”
The idea that a dish is somehow invalid for not conforming to some specific standard drives me crazy, at least when it’s not recognized that it’s just a semantic argument, one about terminology, not value. A ratatouille by any other name…
All that said, my new method actually is a traditional method for making ratatouille, which I suppose takes some of the wind out of my argument, but whatever. Get your own blog.
Last time, I described a baked ratatouille. This time, I did it on the stovetop. Results: I actually found the stovetop version easier and tastier. I chopped the vegetables as I went along, which made everything feel faster. And it may just be that I was starting with better produce this time – everything except the tomatoes came from my CSA - but the final product seemed more balanced than last time.Plus, I didn’t have to turn on my oven and heat my kitchen up by 20 degrees.
As I said last time, baking is great if you want to do prep ahead of time, but for a simple summer supper, I now think the stovetop is the way to go. Either way, don’t let any French bureaucrats sneak into your kitchen and start lecturing you about authenticite’. Give him a good thwack with a ladle and let them know that this is America.
2 cloves garlic
1 medium eggplant
2 medium green bell peppers
1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 bunch fresh basil
1. Heat a good amount of olive oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Mince garlic and chop onion and add to hot oil.
2. Thinly slice eggplant and peppers. Once onions soften and begin to caramelize (this is where I think the stove has a serious advantage over the oven), add eggplant and bell peppers to the oil. Don’t panic if everything seems really dry all of a sudden. Eggplant has a tendency to suck up oil, but it releases it again as it softens.
3. When eggplant is soft, add tomatoes and mix through. Now you can stew for as long as you like to allow the flavors to blend together.
4. Right before you serve, turn off the heat on the pot and tear in the fresh basil.