To have with your wonderful lamb meatballs, as a fresh and tasty sauce over some pasta, or just as a nice chunky bowl of soup like goodness…ratatouille always hits the mark…Its a simple preparation that can be done with huge chunks, or small dice…three veggies…or thirteen…strong or subtle…hell…left chunky, or whirled in you food processor if you really have something against wonderful arrays of color and texture?!?!?!?
Below will be a simple recipe based on what was in my fridge the other night…most times I would add eggplant to the mix, but I did not have any ( if you are very insistent…then go buy some…but remember to salt your chunks of eggplant after cutting to pull out the bitterness and excess moisture, wait about ten minutes, and rinse off the salt…counter intuitive, but it works…)
WHAT YOU NEED…OR WHAT WAS IN MY FRIDGE the other night…
I cut the veggies small in this dish to quicken the time of the recipe, make it more of a sauce then a stew, and for the visual effect…feel free to make it chunkier, but obviously adjust the amount of time it takes to cook.
1 LEEK ( No dark green bits, cut in half length wise and then finely slice)
3 SHALLOTS ( or one onion, either way…cut very fine…)
4 cloves garlic (smashes, crushed, diced, whatever you like…smaller is stronger, bigger chunks cooked slowly will have a deeper softer taste)
1 carrot, peeled and fine dice
2 SMALL ZUCHINNI, fine dice ( 1/4 inch cubes roughly…just make sure everything is same size!!!)
1 green pepper, seeded, and fine diced
2 portobello mushrooms, chopped fine
4 TOMATOES, fine dice
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Balsamic Vinegar ( sherry, red wine vinegar, use what ya got)
Fresh Herbs, finely chopped ( basil, parsley, green onion, chives, etc)
Heat up one large saute pan ( medium heat) and one small saute pan ( high heat) on stove top
Add a small amount of olive oil to both pans
In large pan add garlic, leek and shallots and let cook down slowly without browning
In small pan saute carrots till tender…and then toss them in large pan
In small pan continue cooking each vegetable in the order they are in the recipe till just tender, and then transfer into large pan ( Yes, if you like you can do this in one large pan, but you will have less control over the exact cooking of each product…you can also use four pans and make yourself very very busy in a short amount of time.) But remember, take your time, and enjoy the cooking.
Once all veggies are cooked and in large pan, allow them to cook down a bit till soft and incorporated…you may need to add a splash of white wine or water to the pan to deglaze the bottom if it is sticking…this is okay…its all helping to develop the flavours…
Now is the time to add the zest of lemon, a squeeze of the juice, and a splash of balsamic…taste…what does it need…more acid, some salt and pepper, a nice drizzle of olive oil…don’t be afraid to add things slowly and in small amounts, this way you can keep correcting the flavours…until they are how you want them.
Take the ratatouille out of the pan…put in a bowl, fold in your fresh herbs …and enjoy with the lamb meat balls, or however you like.
…this recipe freezes very well, and can easily be a soup if thinned out a bit with vegetable stock and served a nice grating of Parmesan, and with some crusty bread …but simply put…use what you have around the house, this is something that can be easily made while working on rolling meatballs, cutting veggies, preparing some sangria, or cleaning the kitchen ( i know i know…why clean when you are still cooking…because its harder to cook with all kinds of shit around…keep some hot soapy water in the sink( or in a large bowl next to sink) while cooking and all gets done before and not after cooking)…this way people are happy you cooked, and not worried about the mountain of dishes they will be forced to clean as payment for your wonderful prepared meals…