Tag Archives: eggplant

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 1

The transition from fall to summer is my very favorite time of the year. I love the cool mornings and sunny (but not humid) days. It is the perfect time for making my favorite comfort food: Ratatouille. Like all good comfort foods, it is warm and filling and permeates your house with delicious smells as it cooks low and slow on the stove. And during this change of seasons, I love that I can still get great fresh garden vegetables and herbs to use in this recipe.

Ratatouille is not always the most visually appealing dish, but is bursting with flavor. It is full of hearty vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs Then cooked down on the stove until the flavors blend and meld into the most delicious vegetable stew. Eating healthy has never tasted better!

Ratatouille 2

This is Little A’s very favorite side dish. His face just lights up when he smells it as he comes into the house. All of the kids love it except for Little J (but she hardly counts as she turns her nose up to EVERY vegetable in this dish).

Ratatouille makes a perfect side dish to grilled or roasted meats. I love to serve it this time of year, when we still like to grill chicken, pork, or other things outside. Grilled meat is wonderful, but also begs for something juicy to eat with it. Ratatouille fits that bill perfectly. It is also great later in the winter with a roasted pork tenderloin, roast chicken, or beef roast.

This recipe makes a good-sized pot of ratatouille. You could always scale it back if you don’t want to make that much, but I love to have leftovers of this dish. It makes a perfect lunch all on its own the next day. Or as a sauce for pasta for an easy meal later in the week.

I never measure things when I make this recipe. It is very flexible based on your personal tastes. Below is a good approximation of the amounts that I use.

RECIPE:

Ratatouille 2

Ratatouille

½ cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, skin on, diced
2 onions, chopped
1 red/orange/yellow pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced and quartered
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
3 cups chopped tomatoes
½ tsp Tabasco sauce (adjust to taste)
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil*
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley*
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme*
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano*

Heat olive oil in a large saucepot. Add eggplant to the hot oil and cook until eggplant begins to soften. Add onions, red pepper and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, salt, pepper, and dried herbs; cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add chopped tomatoes and Tabasco sauce and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, until mixture is cooked down and thickened (30-40 minutes). Stir in fresh herbs during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.

*Or substitute an additional 2-3 tsp dried Italian seasoning for the fresh herbs

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Filed under Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Soups/Stews/Curries

Chinese Chicken & Eggplant in Garlic Chili Sauce

Chicken & Eggplant

One of our favorite dishes at a Pittsburgh Chinese restaurant is their Chicken and Eggplant. Here in Baltimore, we haven’t yet found a restaurant that serves quite the same dish. But we do have a fabulous Asian grocery store not too far away, so I went about recreating it at home.

When using eggplant in a stir fry, be sure to use a small variety of eggplant.

Nasu

Chinese/Japanese Eggplant (Nasu)

Sicilian striped eggplant

Sicilian Striped Eggplant

The skin on the larger eggplants is often too thick to chew in a quick stir fry. The texture of the eggplant in this dish will also be a lot better if you can cut the eggplant so that each slice has skin on one side. If all you can find are the large eggplants, you can use it, but you should peel it first.

Eggplant absorbs a lot of oil when it is cooked, so to keep this dish from being too oily, sear the eggplant with just a small amount of oil in a very hot pan until it just begins to char. Then remove it from the pan while you cook the remaining ingredients.

The sauce is a little spicier than a normal teriyaki sauce, but you can tone down the spice if you don’t like it quite soo hot. One special ingredient that I also bought from the Asian market is this Spicy Bean Sauce, which has a garlic chili base:

Spicy Bean Sauce

 

RECIPE:

Chicken & Eggplant

Chinese Chicken & Eggplant in Garlic Chili Sauce

Sauce:
2 Tbs spicy bean sauce
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs rice wine or cooking sherry
2 Tbs garlic chili sauce or 2 tsp chili paste
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns

Other ingredients:
4 thinly sliced chicken breasts
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 Tbs oil, divided
3-4 small Asian eggplants (or other small variety eggplant), cut into wedges
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
(use 6 cloves of garlic if using chili paste instead of garlic chili sauce)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
6 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
Hot cooked rice

Combine sauce ingredients and set aside. In a Ziploc bag or small bowl, combine chicken, 1 Tbs oil, cornstarch and salt. Set aside.

In a large wok or skillet, heat 1 Tbs oil until very hot. Add eggplant to hot skillet and stir  over high heat until eggplant begins to char, about 5 minutes. Do not crowd the pan; cook in two batches, if necessary. Remove eggplant from pan and set aside. Add additional 1 Tbs oil to pan. Add chicken to pan and cook, stirring, until chicken is cooked through. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and ginger. Cook for 2 minutes, and then add green onions and cooked eggplant slices. Stir in sauce and heat through. Serve over rice.

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