Chef Carlos de Souza was kind enough to provide me with the ratatouille recipe from the current Garden Café buffet at the National Gallery of Art, the menu for which was created by Michel Richard. It is really an outstanding recipe, and a hint of sunnier climes!
Here it is:
1 medium-large eggplant; peeled, sliced 1/2" thick and cubed
2 medium-large zucchini; scrubbed, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4" thick
1 large yellow onion; sliced and diced (not too small)
1 bell pepper; sliced and diced 1" long pieces (any color is fine)
1 28oz can diced tomatoes; drained (drink the tomato juice, it's awesome)
1 - 3 cloves of garlic; minced
olive oil; as much as you desire
freshly ground pepper
In a large skillet, heat about 4 tablespoons olive oil on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add all the eggplant. Season with salt and toss to coat well with oil. Try to toss and NOT STIR! Watch the eggplant carefully, tossing often so it roasts to a deep golden brown but doesn't burn. Be patient with the oil as it will take a little while to be fully absorbed when you first put the eggplant in the skillet but as it roasts it will all be absorbed and eventually, you will end up with 2 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of your skillet. You can carefully remove the eggplant with a skimmer and place it into a bowl to await the rest of the cooked vegetables and keep the oil for the next vegetable.
Put the zucchini in the skillet next. Once again, season with salt and watch carefully as it roasts thoroughly but does not burn! Remove the zucchini and place in a bowl to wait. You can put it in the same bowl as the eggplant. If you have enough oil left in the bottom of your skillet after removing the zucchini there is no need to add some, however, if you need to, you may add another tablespoon or so for the cooking of the onion.
Put the onion in the skillet next. Season and roast until golden brown. Be really careful with the onion as it can burn and turn into hard and unpleasant pieces. Remove the onion and add it to your bowl of cooked veggies.
Add a little olive oil to your skillet for the bell pepper. Season and roast. Now, this is the most difficult vegetable to roast because it resists roasting and goes right to burning so watch this one like a hawk lest you want burned bell pepper in your ratatouille! Keep the heat medium low, it may take a little longer but the results are better.
Finally, return all the roasted vegetable to your skillet, you may have to find a larger one if it doesn't all fit! Add the tomatoes and the minced, fresh garlic. Season with several turns of fresh ground pepper and stir the ratatouille so all the ingredients blend well. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 - 45 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. The veggies in the bottom of the skillet should start to caramelize. This gives the ratatouille its amazing flavor. And you're done! I like to eat this ratatouille hot, with a pasta or couscous but he prefers eating it cold right out of the fridge when he gets home late at night from the restaurant. So, make sure you make enough to have some left over!
Hey what a classy chef, huh?! Thanks Chef de Souza! Happy New Year.