Occasionally necessity really is the mother of invention. A couple of containers of late summer ratatouille still in the fridge wondering if I’d forgotten them. (I hadn’t. That stuff’s pure gold.) Raw shrimp on sale at the store that jumped into my cart. A lonely sauté pan on the stove. An empty tummy.
Ratatouille from dictionary.reference.com:
ra· ta· touille
[rat-uh–TOO-ee, –twee; Fr. ra-ta–too-yuh]
noun: a vegetable stew of Provence, typically consisting of eggplant, zucchini, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, and garlic, served hot or cold.
A big batch of ratatouille that uses up those pesky veggies can be used in a plethora of happy ways: as it is cold or hot for a meal or side; on pasta/rice/quinoa; stored in the freezer for Thanksgiving; as a bed for grilled fish; or how about in a frittata?
But I couldn’t help but think I’d only heat that waiting veggie goodness to bubbling and stir in the shrimp until they were just barely done– which happens so very quickly:
In about 5 minutes, I had dinner. And you can, too. Set the table and pour the wine before you put skillet to flame so you get a hot meal with tender shrimp.
Try this while you can still grab all the vegetables for the ratatouille, including the super food: bell peppers.
but do check out the ideas for “make-the-dish” garnishes below before you begin.
- 1 ½ quarts ratatouille (recipe included in post)
- 1 pound raw medium shrimp peeled, deveined, and tailed
- Garnishes: Fresh basil. Optional: peels of Pecorino Romano, sliced kalamata olives, or capers
- In a large deep skillet or sauté pan, warm ratatouille over medium heat, stirring, until the vegetables are at a good simmer. If the stew is thick – and it will be if you’ve made and refrigerated it – pour in 1/4 cup water to thin it a bit and to keep it from sticking. Add raw shrimp and cook until shrimp is just firm and pink—perhaps 3 minutes, stirring regularly to make sure the shrimp is all cooked evenly. (If you use frozen shrimp, it will take an extra minute or so.) Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve hot with fresh basil and cheese, olives or capers, if desired.
Alyce’s Ratatouille with Green and Red Bell Peppers
- 1/4 cup olive oil divided
- 3-4 Japanese eggplant (skinny long oneor 2 medium globe eggplant cut into 1′′ cubes – peel larger eggplants
- 1 teaspoon salt divided
- 3 zucchini and 3 yellow squash cut into 1′′ cubes
- 1 each: red bell pepper and green bell pepper or yellow, cut into strips
- 2 large onions chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup each: chopped Italian (or curlparsley and chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dried dill
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano optional
- 28 ounce can Italian tomatoes drained (reserve juicor 1.5-2# fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped*
- 3 ounces tomato paste store extra in a baggie in the freezer for next time
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar or honey
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper optional (or to taste; be careful)
- Preheat oven to 350. Place chopped eggplant on a baking tray, sprinkle lightly with salt and let sit while the oven preheats. When the oven is hot, blot the eggplant lightly on both sides with paper towels and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Cover the tray with foil tightly and bake about 40 minutes or until the eggplant is tender. Remove from oven, remove foil, and set aside.
- Meantime, in a large, deep skillet (or heavy soup pot), cook in the remaining oil the onions, peppers, and zucchini until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, herbs, tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar. Season with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Stir well, heat through and taste. Add crushed red pepper and taste again. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Let simmer 15 -20 minutes over low heat. Add eggplant and warm through. Add some of the reserved tomato juice if the mixture becomes too thick and is sticking or if you’d like a looser consistency.
- Serve as is (hot, warm or cold), with Parmesan, over pasta, beneath fish or chicken, or in an omelet. A big bowl of this and a hunk of bread folks can tear and dip into it is perfect August food.
- Store tightly covered in fridge 2-3 days or freeze for 3-6 months, well-wrapped.
The cook with no time at all might choose to skip making the homemade ratatouille and instead sauté 2-3 chopped zucchini or yellow squash, 2 large peppers, and 2 large onions, add a quart of top-quality tomato sauce (*Rao’s is my choice), heat to bubbling, add shrimp, cook until just done–and call it good. Will it be Ratatouille Shrimp? Nope, but it’ll eat.
SLOW COOKER RATATOUILLE (Williams-Sonoma)
Louisiana Seafood Shrimp Recipes (Buy American Shrimp, please!)
WINE: I’d go with an inexpensive French or even a Paso Robles Red Rhone– style wine, but there’s little doubt a lighter-side Italian red would drink. Things that grow together go together. We’re pairing the prep, not the protein here.
NEED DESSERT? Buy some lemon sorbet.
IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT LIKE TO TRY:
This week around my house + things to read:
Need a good read? Pick up SOMETHING IN THE WATER, a first novel by Catherine Steadman–quite a thriller I’ve opted to read only in daylight hours. This is September’s read for one of my book clubs. Don’t have a book club? Try NOW READ THIS–PBS NewsHour/NYT Book Club--all online. Fun!
I’m also perusing THE 100 MOST JEWISH FOODS with 60 Recipes for Everything from Kugel to Kubbeh by Alana Newhouse. This comes from only trying to keep up with the Saveur Cook Book Club–another captivating online activity. I have good luck with the library when I don’t want to buy a book. My shelves are getting pretty full.
Want to cook more super or power foods? Try POWER FOODS: 150 RECIPES WITH THE 38 HEALTHIEST INGREDIENTS by the Editors of Whole Living Magazine. It’s been around since 2010, but is an excellent resource that includes essays about each of the 38 foods as well as a great group of recipes. You can do a search on the blog for power foods and see a few of the meals I’ve made featuring some of those ingredients. Or read this article: 16 Superfoods That Are Worthy of the Title from Healthline dot com.
Thanks for cooking with me. Enjoy the cool nights and still warm days.
Light the candles; cook for someone soon. Breathe together and be fed.