Speedy Ratatouille with Goat Cheese

As fall begins its chilly decent on the Pacific Northwest, I came across this recipe in Food and Wine Magazine. Always a fan of hearty ratatouilles I found myself drawn to this recipe for the short length of cooking time. Usually ratatouilles are synonymous with long, complex simmered sauces. This ratatouille however maintains the crispness of the vegetables, lending a hearty robust flavor to this classic dish. Always craving a spicy depth to dishes, I added red pepper flakes. I also prefer the salty tang of Parmigiano-Reggiano to goat cheese so I added a generous grating to top off my steaming bowl of ratatouille. Served with a simple French baguette, this meal is a perfect way to welcome the chilly nights of fall.

Speedy Ratatouille with Goat Cheese

Food and Wine Magazine

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

5 large garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 pounds tomatoes, cored and finely chopped

1 cup loosely packed shredded basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup crumbled aged goat cheese

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the eggplant and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add one-third of the garlic, season with salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant to a plate.

Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the casserole along with the zucchini and yellow squash and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Add another one-third of the garlic, season with salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the vegetables to the eggplant.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the casserole, along with the onion and bell pepper. Cook over moderate heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the remaining garlic, season with salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, two-thirds of the basil and the reserved vegetables and cook over moderate heat until the tomatoes have broken down and the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining basil along with the lemon zest and juice. Transfer to bowls and sprinkle with the goat cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

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