Ratatouille with Sausage over Polenta

rata2I love ratatouille. I have always considered it to be a peasant type food, that was best made sans formal recipes. Get your hands dirty! Figuratively speaking that is.

You get the best ingredients and you love them until they reduce to this delightful silken wonder of melded tastes.

See? I wax poetic when it comes to ratatouille.

Anyway, so dearly do I love the stuff that it seemed only fair to marry it to another favorite, Parmesan Polenta and some great sausages. This makes such a great meal.

I hope you enjoy it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 recipe of Parmesan Polenta, made the day before. If you want your polenta pourable, then you can make it at the same time.
  • 1 medium to large eggplant, diced (depending on age, peel, salt, and rinse to remove bitterness. I try to obtain small young eggplants and not have to peel or salt)
  • 1 lg onion, sliced semi-thinly or in a larger dice
  • 2-3 medium zucchini, or any variety or combination of summer squash, diced
  • 1 lg sweet pepper, diced. Italian frying peppers are superb here if you can get them.
  • 4 lg cloves garlic, microplaned
  • 3 c seeded tomatoes, diced (you can peel them if you wish, but this is rustic)
  • 6 crimini mushrooms, diced
  • olive oil
  • 1/3 c chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 sausages (any type you like)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, grated (at the table)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large saute pan, heat up some olive oil, about 1/4 c. When shimmering, add the eggplant, onion, zucchini, and sweet pepper. Fry, letting them get some nice char on the edges before stirring. Allow to get softened. Medium heat.
  2. Add the mushrooms and garlic and continue sauteing until the mushrooms have softened.
  3. Salt and pepper generously, at least a teaspoon of each.
  4. Add the tomatoes and stir, reducing the heat, and covering the pan. Cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and continue cooking the mixture down until the tomatoes have broken down nicely and the mixture starts to get a saucy consistency but while the vegetables still retain their integrity. This can take a long time if done slowly which is what you want. Plan a good hour for this step.
  6. Meanwhile, place the sausages in another pan and saute just enough to get some nice char. You can leave them whole or slice as you wish. Don’t put them in the ratatouille however, since the intense flavors of the sausage will get leached out and they will be too bland. Add them to the dish and then stir in just before serving.
  7. Add parsley also at the end just before serving.
  8. Add additional olive oil to get a nice sheen on the dish at serving time as well.
  9. Slice the polenta into squares, saute in olive oil until warmed and just toasted on the outside. Turn and do the other side, browning slightly. (You can do this on the grill if you like as well. Brush with olive oil before placing on the grill)
  10. Plate with a slice of polenta and a couple of ladles of the ratatouille.
  11. Dust with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

SERVES: 4

SOURCE: Sherry Peyton

NOTES: Because it takes a bit of time to cook down the ratatouille properly, this is a perfect recipe to start in the morning. Take your time and reduce the sauce until its glistening, and thick and the tomatoes are nicely broken down. You can just turn it off,  cover and leave it on the stove for later at this point, or refrigerate if you desire. Since it will water up a bit when cooled, when you reheat, plan on reducing it a bit further, about 30 minutes on low heat, just letting it bubble and steam away the accumulated liquid. You don’t want it dry, but just not watery.

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Calabacita Cheese Casserole

Calabacita-Salad This is a thoroughly Mexican dish and probably has as many variations as their are Hispanics in New Mexico!

It’s main feature is the Calabacita or”little squash”. You probably can’t get the variety we use here in the Land of Enchantment which is called a Calabacita Italiano, but a plain old regular zucchini will do. These are just a bit milder and sweeter.

This is a wonderful side to any number of meat dishes, unlimited in fact, so don’t be afraid to use it with some utterly red/white/blue dishes like fried chicken or fried pork chops. It goes with anything.

Recipe from Adobe Nido.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 each yellow summer squash and Calabacita squash (or zucchini), medium-sized
  • 1 c corn, frozen, fresh off the cob or canned
  • 1/2 c diced sweet onion
  • 1/2 c grated cheese (to be authentic use queso fresco or cotija) otherwise a Monterey jack works well.
  • 1-2 cloves garlic grated
  • 1/4 c roasted chopped green chili (Hatch is best but you can substitute Anaheim or Poblano). Sear the outside until blackened, remove the skin, remove seeds and chop. One should be enough. Left overs can be frozen for another use.
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Wash squash and then dice up.
  3. Saute onion in olive oil until just about to turn brown. Add the garlic about midway and add salt and pepper.
  4. Add the squash and cook until about half done, still a bit crisp.
  5. Add the corn, mix in.
  6. Turn off the heat and add the chili and the cheese. Stir and pour into a casserole dish.
  7. Place in oven uncovered for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and things are getting bubbly.

Serves: 4-6

NOTES: This goes wonderfully with some carne guisada with refried beans and some rice. But as I said, it’s versatile enough to go well with any main meat dish.