Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ratatouille with Green Olives and Feta

It’s vegetarian night at Chez Maggie and Jeff and as usual the recipe we gravitated to has eggplant in it. It’s funny because I’m not that big of a fan of eggplant but as Jeff likes to say, “She’ll eat anything that is covered in tomato sauce and cheese.” Thanks, honey… Seriously though, this recipe, which is adapted from a Tyler Florence recipe, is a really nice take on traditional ratatouille. We scarfed it down the first time we made it. Serve it with some pesto pasta and a salad and you’re in for a treat. Plus, it’s easy enough for a weeknight meal.
Ratatouille with Green Olives and Feta
Serves 4 as a main meal
1/3 cup whole almonds
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
½ tsp. red chili flakes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 packaged feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
5 medium Japanese eggplant, chopped (or 2 lg. eggplants)
3 medium zucchini, chopped
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and hand crushed
1 tbls. balsamic vinegar

Put the almonds into a large skillet over medium heat. Gently toast the nuts, being careful not to let them burn, for about 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes, 1 chopped garlic clove, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 3 minutes and transfer to a plate to cool. Chop the almonds roughly and put them into a bowl along with the feta cheese, olives, and 1/3 of the basil leaves. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.

Put 2 tablespoons olive oil and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes into the skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, remaining garlic, and 1/3 of the basil leaves and cook until the onions start to soften, about 5 minutes. Put in the eggplant and cook until it is soft, about 10 minutes, adding more olive oil if necessary. Add the zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and capers; season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until these vegetables are soft but still whole. Add the canned tomatoes, vinegar, and remaining basil leaves. Continue to cook for another 15 minutes; remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
To serve, put the ratatouille into a bowl or platter and top with the feta, olive, and almond mixture.

Tips and Tidbits
This freezes well, so make a big batch and take a break from cooking one night!

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