One challenge I’ve run into with this little cooking-from-a-different-country-every-month experiment is that I make a lot of things I would never otherwise make on a typical night.
Some of these dishes wind up being a special occasion because I don’t have 3 hours to devote to trying a new thing.
Russian Honey Cake – never regretted it for a second. But how often are you going to bake a 6-hour cake?
Salt cod? Again delicious but I rarely have a week to devote to salting a fish.
Experiences I’m certainly glad I have but not necessarily something I need to recreate on a regular basis.
But I make Ratatouille at least once a month.
Ratatouille is nutrition packed and very simple to make.
Most of the time needed for this dish is just letting the magic happen inside the pot.
You know your ratatouille is done when the sauce reduces, and you’re left with sticky, sweet tomato sauce loaded up with veggies.
I’ve seen pictures of ratatouille in pans or made into beautiful designs within roasting pots. I prefer this version because it’s got an abundance of sauce, that when left on the stove to simmer, gets all flavor dense and jammy.
I love this dish so much. Let me count the ways.
Which brings me to…Parmesan Polenta. HOW are we not eating this every day?
It’s naturally gluten-free, and by adding just a little butter and cheese, you get this decadent silky smooth base for whatever your heart desires. Go wild with the black pepper, do it.
One common complaint about ratatouille (from boyfriend) is that it’s too acidic. I’d been using Jamie Oliver’s recipe for a while, but I’ve changed it to address said complaint. I use a less pungent vinegar and a pinch of sugar.
This did the trick, I’m in love with this recipe.
Ratatouille with Parmesan Polenta
(Start making 90 minutes before you want Ratatouille with Parmesan Polenta)
Start by cutting up all your veggies – eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers, tomatoes. You want everything roughly the same size – about one inch wide and tall.
Heat up 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot, over medium-high heat. Saute the eggplant, zucchini and green peppers, working in batches. They just need to be cooked partially, getting browned on the outside.
Remove veggies from the pot, add another 2 Tbsp of oil. Add your onion, and saute for 5 minutes. Add your garlic, continue stirring. Add the rest of your veggies back to the pot. Then add your canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, red wine vinegar, and sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Partially cover the pot, and let simmer over low heat for at least 45 minutes.
While this is happening, make your polenta. Boil 4 cups water on the stovetop in a pot. Add polenta and pinch of salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until it starts to thicken. Cover, and let cook for a total of 30 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes – careful! – polenta is hot and will sometimes spit at you.
When 30 minutes are up, remove from heat, stir in butter, black pepper and parmesan.
By now, your ratatouille is done. You’ll know it’s done because it’s thick and kind of jammy. Add basil leaves, additional salt/pepper if needed. Serve with polenta.