July 12, 2016
Welcome to Week 6.
I feel as if I have sweated buckets in the past week. I hope you have been finding a way to stay cool and comfortable.
This week’s recipe was created by the great Thomas Keller, owner of French Laundry and Per Se, two of the finest restaurants around. Of course, you are free to make it look any way you like. As you probably already know, we eat with our eyes. Presentation is at least half the battle. My nephew, who is 35 years old and will not eat lettuce, likes to have some cut up cucumbers and tomatoes with his dinner. I always volunteer for that job, and have never cut the vegetables the same way twice. I have done great extravaganzas of heart-shaped veggies, and spears arranged around a central circle – you get the idea. So much fun!
So here’s the recipe. It uses more than one of the items we’re getting this week. I hope you like it.
THOMAS KELLER’S RATATOUILLE RECIPE
Slightly adapted from Thomas Keller
½ red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
½ yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
½ orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
5 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1½ tsp. minced garlic (or more to taste), divided
½ yellow onion, finely diced (about ½ cup)
1 28-oz. can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, seeded and chopped, juices reserved (or 3 to 4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, juices reserved)
2 sprigs fresh thyme (plus 1 extra sprig for sprinkling)
1 sprig Italian parsley
1 small bay leaf
1 zucchini (about 7 to 8 oz.), sliced in 1/16-inch rounds
1 Japanese eggplant (7 to 8 oz), sliced in 1/16-inch rounds
1 yellow summer squash (7 to 8 oz.), sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
4 to 5 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
1 to 2 tsp. aged balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees . Place the peppers cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until their skins loosen and begin to brown slightly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.
2. Combine 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. garlic, and the onion in an 8-inch cast iron skillet (or other ovenproof skillet), over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, their juices, 2 sprigs thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over medium-low heat until very little liquid remains, about 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to brown.
3. Add the peppers and simmer for a couple of minutes to soften them. Season to taste with salt and discard herbs. Reserve 1 to 2TBS of the mixture for the vinaigrette, leaving the rest in the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat.
4. Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees. Starting from the outer edge of the pan and working your way in, arrange alternating slices of zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash, and Roma tomatoes. Allow the slices to overlap so that about ¼-inch of each slice is exposed. Repeat until the pan is filled.
5. Sprinkle the pan with the remaining garlic and the leaves from the remaining sprig of thyme. Drizzle with 2 TBS olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
6. Cover the pan with foil and seal well. Bake until the vegetables are tender, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. If the pan has accumulated any excess liquid after baking, carefully drain it off.
7. To make the vinaigrette, combine the reserved tomato and pepper mixture with the remaining 1 TBS olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle around plate and serve hot.
Yield: 2 to 4 servings
Look for vegetables that are similar in size, which makes arranging them in the pan easier and more uniform.
You can, if you like, puree the tomato and pepper mixture with the balsamic in a blender to create a smoother vinaigrette. You can also omit the vinaigrette altogether and simply drizzle each plate or serving with a few drops of balsamic.
When serving, use a cake spatula for lifting the veggies out of the pan and plating.
If you have any leftover veggie slices that didn’t fit in the pan, use them in a frittata or vegetable stir-fry.
I know his recipe may seem daunting, but it really is simple. Give yourself time and some patience, and it will really pay off. Enjoy!
Have a delicious week.