I needed a side dish for dinner Thursday, saw the two eggplants in the refrigerator, and decided this was the time to try ratatouille. Obviously, I had never made this dish before or I wouldn’t have tried it on a weeknight. The recipe I found as a “guide” had a process that took 2-5 hours from beginning to end – I did not do that!
Of course, I didn’t have the ingredients for a traditional ratatouille, so we improvised, significantly. Here is my version:
- 2 med. eggplant, chopped into 3/4″ cubes
- 1/2 med bunch bok choy, chopped
- 4 T. olive oil
- 1 lg onion, chopped
- 1 t. minced garlic
- 2-3 c. small (volunteer) tomatoes, blanched and peeled
- 1 t. dried basil
- 1 t. dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
First, toss the eggplant with 2 t. salt in a colander and let sit for up to 3 hours ( I got to 45 minutes).
While this sat, I rinsed and chopped the bok choy and blanched and peeled the tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 500°.
Rinse the eggplant to remove the salt, then press the eggplant between layers of paper towels to flatten the chunks a bit. If I had let it salt longer, I assume the chunks would have collapsed more.
This mixture got spread out on two foil lined baking sheets, sprinkled with sea salt, and then roasted in the oven for 30 minutes. Every 10 minutes I turned the vegetables and rotated the pans between the upper and lower racks in the oven. (The guide recipe wanted roasting to last up to 40 minutes, but it was getting late and the family was hungry, so I was cutting time everywhere I could. 🙂 )
When the eggplant and bok choy went into the oven, I heated 2 T. olive oil in a cast iron dutch oven over medium heat, added the onion and then reduced the heat to low, slowing cooking the onions for 15-20 minutes, until they were dark brown and softened.
I added the garlic and cooked until the aroma filled the kitchen, then added the tomatoes and cooked until they released their juice and started to break down.
By now, the eggplant mixture was out of the oven and I added it to the pot with the tomatoes. I combined them gently, then added the basil and thyme, cooking longer to allow the dried herbs to absorb some of the liquid and soften.
The “official” recipe had wanted fresh herbs and zucchini. Since I didn’t have any of those, I felt the bok choy added color and flavor to make up for what I lacked.
Next time, I might chop the eggplant (and whatever other vegetables I use) a bit smaller, and I want to try roasting them with whole garlic cloves. Yummm!
Unfortunately, we didn’t eat until about 8:20, so next time I will try to save this for a weekend and enjoy the process more. But it was good and used the eggplant and bok choy, two vegetables that can be difficult come up with ideas for.