Showing posts with label ratatouille. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ratatouille. Show all posts

18 August 2007

Easy Skillet Ratatouille

There comes a weekend night in late summer when the chill sets in and we close the windows for the first time since early June. We don forgotten sweaters or sweatshirts and throw a quilt on the bed. My husband tunes in the Green Bay Packers game and I settle down with the September issue of Vogue or a good mystery.

It's ratatouille time. Saturday night, I made a skillet version of my favorite dish. In the oven was a whole chicken stuffed with garlic, onion, rosemary and thyme. Rice from the Camargue was baking in a sauce of tomatoes and herbes de Provence. So I sliced my vegetables and sauteed them in a skillet.

Ratatouille in the Skillet

  • 1 small eggplant
  • dash sea salt with herbes de Provence
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small zuchinni
  • 1 small summer squash
  • 2-3 small peppers, red or green
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes

Wash and slice, but do not peel the eggplant. Strive for uniform size pieces. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt and herbes. Cover and set aside for an hour or so until water drains from the eggplant.

Slice the zuchinni, squash and peppers, too. Sauté each, one at a time, in olive oil. Sauté only until eacg vegetable begins to turn golden brown. Set aside. Slice onions and mince garlic and do the same with these. Set aside. Finally, drain the eggplant and add it to the pan. Return onion, garlic, zuchinni, squash and peppers to the pan. Add diced tomatoes and allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Season with additional herbes de Provence, sea salt and pepper, if you like.

My husband noticed that the tomatoes took on new flavors from the vegetables.

The entire meal, which was preceded by a simple salad of cherry tomatoes and lettuce, tasted of autumn on the rise and hinted of the Midi.

I often think of ratatouille as a transitional dish, one that is best savored as summer wanes and fall begins to show its burnished colors. It was the perfect meal on a dark and chilly August night.

25 February 2007

Spicy Chicken Breasts With Ratatouille Vegetables in a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Winter has finally come to my corner of the Upper Midwest. It hit around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning and has been going full force. Schools are closed, kids are inside and the only sound you hear is the cacophony of snowblowers and the occasional freight train trundling through town. Those of us who are lucky enough to be able to work from home are doing that.

After Blowing Us Out Round One on Sunday, my husband made chili. Hot stuff. I made something similarly spicy cobbled together from what was on hand and in the larder: Chicken Breasts with Ratatouille Vegetables in a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.

It's a fricassee kind of dish, served with strips of eggplant, peppers and zucchini. Since I'm off carbs for two weeks, I had to make up for that sacrifice with protein and heat.

For the Chicken

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • dash sel de fleur
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with roasted red pepper
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers from a jar
  • 1/2 cup salt-free chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Toss seasonings and chicken in a plastic bag to coat. Then, use a heavy skillet to lightly brown chicken in olive oil. When chicken is barely golden brown, remove it from pan; set aside. Add onion and garlic and brown lightly, adding a little more olive oil, if necessary. Cook for about three minutes. Pour in tomatoes and water. Add red pepper. You may chop this into small pieces, or even mince it. Return the chicken to the skillet and cook for about 30-45 minutes under low heat. Since I was using dried thyme, I added it midway through the cooking process.

I always use a meat thermometer to check chicken prepared this way, or any way, for that matter.

I kept checking the sauce and adding more spices. There is no prescribed amount, really; it's whatever you can tolerate.

For the Vegetables

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 peppers, green and red
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • fleur de sel

While the chicken was cooking, the vegetables were roasting in a 450-degree oven. These I prepared earlier in the day, working with the eggplant first, cutting it into strips, but not peeling it. I sprinkled it with sel de fleur and let it sit for about an hour to remove water. I almost always use a mix of salt and herbes de Provence (above). The peppers and the zucchini were also cut in strips. I drizzled the vegetables with olive oil before putting them in the oven.

I timed it so the vegetables and chicken were done at the same time. Usually, I get the timing all messed up, and one thing ends up being cold or overcooked.

Having nothing else to do (well, nothing else I had to do), enabled me to get it just right.

Let's hear it for snow days.