Ratatouille with Goat Cheese and Basil Pistou

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PRINTABLE VERSION

 

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

This dish probably won’t grab your attention right away, but it should.  Tender vegetables, topped with tangy goat cheese and silky basil pistou will have the Francophile in you screaming for joy!  I first had this at a restaurant when someone else ordered it (because GASP! This would not grab my attention on a menu) and thought about it with regularity until I went back and ordered it for myself a few months later.  Omit the goat cheese and pistou (if you dare) to make a traditional ratatouille…but really, you’re gonna want to keep them.  The zucchini will take the longest to cook, so when you’re tasting for doneness, make sure to grab a bite of zucchini.

 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oilå

1 large onion, chopped

1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 yellow pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped

5 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 spring of fresh rosemary

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces goat cheese

PISTOU:

1 cup loosely packed basil leaves

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1/3 to 1/2 cup high-quality extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

In a large Dutch oven or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, until softened and translucent.  Add the eggplant and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes more.  Add the zucchini, bell peppers and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes longer.  Add the tomatoes, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf, stirring to combine.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 45 minutes.  Remove the lid and cook for 15 minutes longer, until the vegetables are completely tender and most of the liquid has been released.  Taste for seasonings and adjust, as necessary.

 

Make the pistou while the vegetables are cooking: combine the basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to finely chop.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing to make a slightly chunky but homogenous sauce.  Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the Parmesan cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Preheat the oven to 350° and transfer the vegetables to a large baking dish, draining off some of the liquid before transferring.  Crumble the goat cheese on top and bake for approximately 10 minutes, until the goat cheese has softened.  Remove from the oven and drizzle the pistou over the top.  Serve as a side dish or with toasted bread slices.

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