In honor of Bastille Day, I decided I wanted to make a ratatouille with all the beautiful summer vegetables I found at the farmer’s market in Prospect Park this past weekend. It’s always such a pleasure to make ratatouille when all the veggies are in peak form, and in my mind, it’s a dish that should never be attempted out of season.
Then a shipment of Rancho Gordo beans arrived at Pete and Susan’s casa, so of course I decided some sort of white bean though certainly not traditional, would be appropriate to add to the mélange. Then several ears of leftover corn appeared from a Sunday cookout, so why not throw them in too, screw it! My ratatouille très francaise started becoming a bit americaine, as if Succotash was taken by a Provençal lover and this was the result of their rolling around in a field of lavender.
This is a superb vegetarian dish this time of year that can stand on its own, act as a side dish, or be made a bit heartier with the addition of a poached egg on top. It’s also a great topping for crostini with a bit of chèvre, and makes a killer room-temp pasta salad with penne. All that being said, make sure you make a big batch so you have all these options to nosh on throughout the week. Happy Bastille Day and Bonne Fête Nationale!
For the Herb Pistou:
1 scallion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup toasted almonds
1/4 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup olive oil
Sale and pepper, to taste
For the Ratatouille Succotash:
1 large eggplant, chopped
3 medium zucchini, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 bell peppers (whatever color you prefer or a mix thereof), chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large tomatoes, chopped
small bunch fresh thyme, leaves only chopped
1/2 lb. cooked lima beans
4 ears of cooked corn, kernels cut from the cob
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
To make the Herb Pistou, combine the herbs, scallion, garlic, almonds and Parmesan to the bowl of a food processor. Blend until everything is broken up and combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl and process again. Add the water and lemon juice, pulse again and scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the food processor running, add the olive oil through the spout in a slow stream. Season with salt and pepper, scrape into a sealed container and set aside. Herb pistou can be made as early as 3 days ahead of time and held in the refrigerator.
To make the Ratatouille Succotash, in a large pot over medium high heat add 1/4 cup olive oil and toss in the eggplant making sure not to crowd the pot. If necessary, do this in two batches so that the eggplant browns and retains its shape. Season with salt and pepper. Leave it alone for 5 minutes, then stir and cook another 5 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl.
Add 2 more tablespoons olive oil to the pot and toss in the zucchini. Season with salt and pepper. Again you do not want the zucchini to crowd the pot so do this in two batches if necessary. Cook the for 5 minutes, stir and cook another 5 minutes. Remove the zucchini from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl.
Add 2 more tablespoons olive oil to the pan and add the onion and bell peppers. Sweat until they turn translucent, about 7 minutes.
Then add the garlic and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
Deglaze the pot with vermouth, scraping up any browned bits (sucs) on the bottom with a wooden spoon.
Return the eggplant and zucchini to the pot and toss in the thyme.
Turn the heat down to medium and cook the vegetables for another 10 minutes.
Add the lima beans, corn, fresh lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Serve with a big dollop of the Herb Pistou, crusty bread and hefty glass of wine.