Recipe: Not Your Usual Ratatouille

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 This is from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters.  What makes this ratatouille different is the cauliflower, which adds crunch to this very healthy dish.  At Bittman’s suggestion, I threw in a can of drained cannelini beans for a bit more protein and heft.  It was yummy with the sole I made for dinner last night (another Bittman recipe from another book), but even better today for lunch with a bowl of soup.  Note:  I found it difficult to cook all the vegetables properly with only a quarter of a cup of oil, so I added some chicken broth.  You could add any broth or even some dry white wine if you like.
Not Your Usual Ratatouille
Makes:  4 to 6 servings

Time:  @ 30 minutes

  • 1 medium or 2 small eggplants (about 8 ounces)
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil leaves for garnish
  • Good vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice, optional

1.  Trim the eggplant and cut into large cubes.  If the eggplant is big, soft, or especially seedy, sprinke the cubes with salt, put them in a collander, and let them sit for at least 30 minutes, preferably 60.  (This will help improve their flavor, but isn’t necessary if you don’t have time.)  Then rinse, drain, and pat dry.

2.  Put 2 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When hot, add the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.

3.  Put the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the pan and add the cauliflower.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses its crunch, about 4 minutes.  Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper and cook and stir for another minute or two, until they’re soft.  Add the tomato and thyme and cook for another minute, until the tomatoes release their juice.  Return the eggplant to the pan, along with basil leaves.  Give it a good stir, taste and adjust for seasoning, and serve hot or at room temperature, with vinegar or lemon.  The ratatouille will keep for a couple of days, covered and refrigerated.

Thought for Food: Mark Bittman’s New Book on Saner Eating

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Author Mark Bittman, aka "The Minimalist"

I’m a big fan of cookbook author and food columnist Mark Bittman.  I love his simple, flexible approach to cooking — hence his moniker “The Minimalist” for his weekly New York Times  column.  When my friend Trish gave me a copy of Bittman’s latest book, Food Matters, I was thrilled.  I read it right away.

 Like Bittman’s cookbooks, Food Matters reflects a clear, concise and practical approach to food.  But it is a bit different:  part manifesto and part cookbook for what Bittman calls “saner eating” — saner for both the personal health of individuals and the environmental health of the world.  

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