Now is the time to hit the Farmer’s Market and make this wonderful dish.
This recipe is a riff on Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Ratatouille that dates all the way back to his 2006 “Tyler’s Ultimate” (Clarkson Potter). It is still one of my recipe bibles. The Fairy Tale eggplants take the place of regular eggplant and we added summer squash to Tyler’s zucchini and red cherry tomatoes. We followed Tyler’s seasonings to the letter. Included among them are minced anchovies. I can’t stress how much these tiny and highly flavored little fish bring to the dish. So although you may or may not want them atop your Caesar Salad, minced with garlic and onions, they bring tremendous flavor to this gorgeous dish.
Now about those Fairy Tale Eggplants…
If you’re on the fence about eggplants, you’re not alone. The eggplant had to overcome a bad reputation. It was thought to cause madness, cancer, and even bad breath. That did not stop Thomas Jefferson from bringing a handful of seeds back from Europe to plant at Monticello in the early 1800s. More recently, enter the fairy tale eggplant. This adorable miniature is smaller, sweeter, and creamier than its Italian cousins. It’s also virtually seedless. And it has the advantage of not having to be salted because it’s much less bitter than its larger cousins. It’s beautiful to look at, cooks quickly, and is tender as can be after just moments on the stove. If you can’t find Fairy Tales, you can certainly substitute regular eggplant (salted before adding please) or Japanese eggplant or virtually any eggplant you can find.
What is summer without a great Ratatouille?
This great French vegetable stew had a huge burst of popularity when Disney made a movie by the same name in 2007. The dish is Provençal with an especially renowned version made in Nice, France. The name comes from two French words ‘ratouiller’ and ‘tatouiller’ both of which mean ‘to stir up’. The South of France may claim the dish but there’s some discussion if its roots aren’t in the Catalonian or Basque regions of the country. To add to the mystery, Zucchini and Tomatoes came from the Americas and eggplant came from India. Whatever its roots, making a big batch of it makes sense. It’s a perfect summer side dish, a lunch on its own, and a salad in its own dressing. Here’s the recipe…and after it some other farmer’s market favorites.
Ratatouille with Fairy Tale Eggplant
Fairy Tale Eggplant enhance this great summer stew with its zucchini, cherry tomatoes, onions and delightful garlic and anchovy dressing
- 1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 pounds Fairy Tale or other small eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds zucchini and yellow squash, cut crosswise into 1-inch sections
- 6 anchovy fillets, finely minced
- 3 onions, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Leaves from one bunch fresh basil, coarsely chopped
- Leaves from 8 fresh thyme sprigs
- 3 pints cherry tomatoes
- 1 dried chile
- Splash balsamic vinegar
- Step 1 Line a large platter with paper towels. Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the eggplant, season generously with salt and pepper, and let that cook down for 10 to 12 minutes, until the eggplant is soft and wilted. With a slotted spoon, remove the eggplant from the pan and onto the paper-towel-lined platter to drain.
- Step 2 Next, cook the zucchini and yellow squash the same way, adding another 1/2 cup oil if necessary. Add it to the platter with the eggplant.
- Step 3 Add another 1/2 cup olive oil to the pan, then the anchovies, onions, garlic, and herbs. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onions get nice and caramelized.
- Step 4 Add the tomatoes and cook that down for 10 to 12 minutes, until pulpy. Return the eggplant and zucchini to the pan, crack open the chile, and add that too. Season with salt and pepper and let the ratatouille cook slowly for about 20 minutes until the mixture is soft, mushy, and juicy
- Step 5 you want all the flavors to come together.
- Step 6 Stir in the vinegar and let cool to room temperature. Serves 8.
- Step 7