This dish was my first attempt at Ottolenghi’s “Tamara’s Ratatouille” from his marvelous book, Plenty. He promises that by following all the steps, the veggies will retain their shape and when done the dish will not become excessively mushy or wet, like the typical ratatouille everyone’s used to. I like wet, but Steven struggles with the squishiness of the common one, so I was particularly drawn to the recipe and accompanying picture in the book, which clearly demonstrated all that he claimed.
Well, men are fickle creatures indeed! Or perhaps my veggies were too water-logged? Whatever the reason, my ratatouille, or perhaps I should say caponata, was beyond moist. It was positively swimming.
Aside from photographing less well than I had hoped and despite the appearance of false advertizing, the dish itself was fantastic. I like that it calls for the use of some Fall vegetables. I had a beautiful kabocha pumpkin ready to be eaten, which was perfect.
Next time, in search of the crispy ratatouille holy-grail, I’m going to use less water and actually cut the veggies into the actual size Ottolenghi recommends (1¼ inch, I think mine were ¾ inch) and bake them slightly differently. The recipe calls for tomatoes but I forgot them.
Fall-inspired kabocha and parsnip ratatouille
½ medium kabocha squash, cubed in ¾ inch size
2 white onions, cut ¾ inch size
8 garlic cloves
1 Anaheim chile pepper, seed and ribs removed minced
2 red bell peppers, cubed ¾ inch size
1 medium sized parsnip, peeled and cubed ¾ inch size
1½ cup green beans
1 medium Italian zucchini, cut into ¾ inch dice
1 medium yellow zucchini, cut into ¾ inch dice
1 medium yellow potato, peeled, cut into ¾ inch cubes
¾ large Italian eggplant, peeled and cubed ¾ inch size
½ tsp sugar
2 tbsp tomato paste
1½ cup warm water
8 tbsp canola oil
Place 3 tbsp of oil in a large sauce pan. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes until they become translucent, add garlic, Anaheim and bell peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Next add parsnip and squash and keep on sautéing for additional 5 minutes.
Transfer vegetables to a bowl. Return pan to stovetop. Add remaining oil followed by green beans, eggplant and zucchini. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring intermittently.
Return first batch of veggies back to pan. Add potato, sugar, salt and pepper. Next, dissolve tomato paste in water and pour it over vegetables. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Place pan in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes. (Here’s where my ratatouille got mushy.) I let mine stay piled up all together, but Ottolenghi recommends removing them from the pan to a baking dish in a single layer then covering them with the pan juices. That would probably have worked. Alas. The outcome was delicious, wet, or I’d imagine, dry.