Ratatouille

There are probably over 100 recipes for Ratatouille…and I believe I have tried at least half that many!   This is my go-to version.  I make it often; its good hot or cold, topped on chicken, fish, pasta or pizza, wrapped in crepes, baked with cheese, as a side dish or main vegetarian meal.  Blended with some chicken stock and a bit of cream, you can make a gorgeous creamy vegetable soup.  It’s very healthy; it  just shouts good for you! 

I made Ratatouille the other day and when I was flipping through my September 2010 Food & Wine Magazine, I noticed a recipe for Ratatouille and Goat Cheese Subs.  I immediately liked the idea and having my Ratatouille already made, I could easily put this together for a quick weeknight dinner.  Of course, I did make some changes.  First off, diligently watching my carb intake, I decided not to use a sub roll, but grill a slice of ciabatta bread.  Instead of a spread of goat cheese and butter, I mixed equal amounts of goat cheese with hummus and added some pesto.  I substituted the mixed greens for arugula.  The results… delicious!  It isn’t a sub to quickly eat with your hands; rather a savoring meal to enjoy requiring a knife and fork.

Ratatouille, Goat Cheese & Hummus Ciabatta

For the Ratatouille:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 sweet peppers, red, yellow or orange, diced
2 medium zucchini, cubed
1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with juices
1/4 cup red wine (optional)
1/4 cup chicken broth (or use 1/2 cup if not using the wine)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Chopped fresh basil (optional, but good to sprinkle on at the end)

For the spread:

1 tablespoon goat cheese
1 tablespoon hummus
1 teaspoon pesto

Arugula
Ciabatta bread

In a very large pan, heat the olive oil.  Add the onions and saute till soft.  Add the peppers and continue to cook until peppers begin to soften and brown.  Add in the zucchini and brown slightly.  Next add in the chopped eggplant, garlic, diced tomatoes, wine, broth and seasonings.  Stir to combine well.  Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately 40 minutes until it becomes the consistency you would like.   Add chopped fresh basil at the end to freshen up the taste!

For topping the Ciabatta bread:

Lightly grill a slice of Ciabatta bread.  Mix together the goat cheese, hummus and pesto and spread on the bread.  Top with arugula and spoon on the warm Ratatouille. 

Cooking notes:  In making the Ratatouille in this method, the onions, peppers and zucchini begin to brown. Eggplant can use and soak up a lot of oil when attempting to brown it; therefore, I add it with the tomato sauce allowing it to simmer and soften in the liquids.  At first it will appear that your pan is overflowing; however, allow the ingredients to cook and blend together.  A 15 oz can of diced tomatoes will flavor it well; at times I have used a 28 oz can of tomatoes creating  more tomato sauce for topping pasta.  You can vary the recipe by the size of the cubes you cut from the veggies.  Try to maintain a consistency in size; smaller cuts for use in fillings and larger for topping on pizza, pasta, or as a main dish.  The Ratatouille makes about 8 cups depending on the size of the vegetables you are using.  Keeps refrigerated for several days.

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