Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pasta with Ratatouille

Shocking. Shocking is the only word I can think of to describe my food habits over the last few weeks. After all the roasting, baking and eating of Thanksgiving, I lost all foodie focus. Out of sheer laziness, I have made meals out of a bag of Pirate's Booty, Easy Mac (because regular mac and cheese seemed too much to handle), and the better part of a jar of kosher dills with a side of turkey pepperoni. Not to mention the fact that I recently had leftover roast beef with horseradish cream sauce - for breakfast. I feel like I have been on a food bender. Disgraceful.

This week, I was back on the wagon, ready to purge myself bad, post-holiday habits with a hearty helping of Pasta with Ratatouille.

Look at those bright, friendly colors!

I may not have been creating good foods after the holiday, but I was exercising my inner foodie outside of the kitchen. I had been visiting a lot of bookstores, perusing new, old and used books, when I decided to pick up a copy Ellen Helman's The Uncommon Gourmet. Mom has been cooking from this book for years. Ellen Helman provides a varied collection of simple recipes which are suitable for everyday, but often elegant enough for company. I'll be cooking from this book again soon. And so should you.

Pasta with Ratatouille 
(Adapted from The Uncommon Gourmet)
1 medium eggplant, peeled and chopped into 1/2" cubes
2 medium zucchini sliced into 1/2" rounds and cut in half
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red pepper, sliced
1 large green pepper, sliced
1 large red onion, halved and sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 - 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
28-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup black olives, sliced
1 tablespoon capers
1 pound gemellli (or other textured pasta which will hold a liquidy sauce)
Makes 6 servings. Place eggplant and zucchini in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Let stand for about 30 minutes; rinse and pat dry. Warm 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute eggplant and zucchini until lightly browned. Remove vegetables from pot and set aside.

Add another 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to pan. Add peppers and onions; saute until soft. Add garlic, parsley, basil, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Add at least 2/3 of can of tomatoes or more if you like. (I started by adding 2/3 of the can, which looked right, but I like tomatoes, so I tossed the whole can in there). Simmer for about 5 minutes. Return eggplant and zucchini and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook and drain pasta according to directions on box.

Add olives and capers to the vegetable pot and simmer another 5 minutes, uncovered. Toss veggies with pasta in a large bowl and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Makes great leftovers for the lunch box.

Boyfriend liked this dish so much, he said, "I don't even mind that there isn't any meat in it." So there you go.

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