Wow, this ratatouille-style vegetable stew is ideal for dinner tonight and the best part is that it is just that a very simple vegetable stew. Ratatouille is French and it is pronounced “rat-uh–too-ee.” Yeah, like the Disney movie. Lesson 3 of the Clean Eating Academy covered advanced vegetable preparation resulting in this wonderful vegetable stew.
This lesson covered three advanced levels of vegetable cuts called bâtonnet, julienne, and brunoise. The orange bell pepper represents a bâtonnet, which means to cut into batons or sticks. A bâtonnet cut allows for rapid cooking of vegetables. To julienne a vegetable means to cut into small thin size pieces like matchsticks. This is represented by the celery. And finally, a brunoise cut, which means to cut a vegetable into small cubes that are precise and uniform in measurement. Typically ranging between 1/6-inch and 1/8-inch, which is represented by the carrot.
The way vegetables are cut is an important element to cooking. This particular recipe requires that all of the vegetables be cut and prepped before. Then it is a matter of layer the flavors and cooking according to a certain amount of time. And this is where the vegetable cut type and size matters. Because all of the vegetables are cut a certain way, the cooking time is much much faster and therefore prepping every ingredient makes it a lot easier to add.
I also used homemade vegetable stock, which gave this stew a beautiful color gravy. I used a striped eggplant, which I cut into medium dice, seasoned it with salt and placed it in colander. The salt helps draw out water, which drained automatically in the colander. Additionally, tomato concassé, which is pronounced “conk-a-SAY” is added which refers to tomatoes that have been peeled, seeded and roughly chopped. Concassé is an elegant way to prepare tomatoes, which requires blanching and a few additional steps that are well worth it resulting in diced, skinless and seedless tomatoes. Simply score an X at the bottom of the tomato, place it boiling water for a few seconds until the skin begins to come apart, remove from hot water and place tomato in an ice bath (a bowl filled with water and ice) to stop the cooking process. Once it is cool enough to handle, remove skin with a paring knife, cut tomato and remove seeds.
The vegetable stew is ideal over pasta, a side dish, or by itself. A great combination of flavors and vegetables that are available year-round.
- 2 Tablespooons oilve oil
- 1 cup red onion, medium dice
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ cups orange (yellow or red) bell pepper, medium dice
- 2 cups eggplant, rinsed
- 1 cup tomato concasee, blanched, peeled, seeded, chopped
- 1 cup zucchini, medium dice
- ¼ cup vegetable stock, homemade or low sodium
- 1 Tablespoon fresh chives, minced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonade cut, divided
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and ground pepper
- Using a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil and add onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add garlic, stir and cook for 30 seconds. Add bell pepper and saute for 2 minutes, add eggplant and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomato concasse, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add zucchini, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add vegetable stock and bring to a simmer until liquid thickens about 5 - 10 minutes. Stir in chives, 1 tablespoon basil, vinegar, and black pepper.
- Season to taste. Top with remaining basil.