Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sausage Ratatouille

We love this meal.  When I told the girls I was making it tonight, they both immediately requested that any leftovers be marked for their lunch boxes tomorrow.  I clipped the original recipe from a magazine six years ago and it sat in a folder for about five years of that time.  Last year I noticed it while clearing out old recipes and decided to try the recipe out.  It was the first time my kids had tried egg plant, and possibly the first time I had cooked with it myself.  Certainly the first successful time!  For my eldest, it was an instant favorite.  Little sis was a bit dubious about the eggplant, but loved the rest.  Now, it is an eagerly anticipated dish and I almost always get cheers when I mention it is on the menu.  Even my Dad requested the recipe after I served it to my folks!  Mom said with a wry smile, that he liked it better than hers.  My Mom is a completely awesome cook by the way.  

I think one of the reasons it turns out so well is that the dish is built in stages.  The eggplant and zucchini are first cooked separately and then added back in later on.  This prevents them from becoming a mushy mess.  It really is a delightful dish and a great way to start off someone who is new to eggplant.  The sausage makes it a full meal, but ratatouille is often simply the vegetable part served as a side or appetizer on top of a crusty baguette.

Sausage Ratatouille
Serves 6
Adapted from Family Fun

4 links Mild Italian Sausage
5 tbsp olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced into ¾" pieces
2 small zucchini, halved and sliced
1 large onion, quartered and sliced thinly
1 medium green bell pepper, quartered, seeded and sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sea salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley or 2 tsp dried (2 tbsp if using freeze dried)
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil or 3 tsp dried

Puncture the sausage links and place in a pot of boiling water.  Cook at a low boil until no longer pink in the middle.  Drain and cool, then slice into ¼-½" rounds and set aside.

 I found this gorgeous striped eggplant at the market.  It was so creamy colored and no dark seeds like the dark purple aubergines.

Warm 3½ tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the eggplant and zucchini and season with a little salt and pepper.  

Sauté, stirring often, until lightly browned but not soft.  About 7 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

Warm remaining 1½ tbsp oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and green pepper and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and sausage and sauté and stir for 3 more minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, eggplant and zucchini.  Season with the 1 tsp salt and plenty of black pepper.

Add the herbs and partly cover the skillet.  Gently simmer for the next 5-10 minutes.

Garnish with fresh basil chiffonade if desired.

This is a great one dish meal, but you can round it out with some crusty bread and a nice green salad.

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