I know claiming something is "the best" is really snobby but this really is the best ratatouille I've ever had. It's down right amazing. I needed to find a recipe using parsnips for this week's Farm Fresh Rhode Island newsletter and am so thankful I stumbled upon this one. I have high hopes to someday host a Halloween open house, maybe when the kids are older, and this would be the perfect thing to have out - with crusty bread and cheese.
And you will eat this entire bowl of vegetables...
Here is our little star of the show, the parsnip. It's a funny scraggly thing. Smells like and kinda tastes like a carrot but more mild and obviously pale.
from Ottolenghi's Plenty
Here is what Yotom Ottolenghi says about this dish: Although I call this ratatouille the name doesn't do it any justice, as this is the most magnificently delicious dish, nothing like the drab pile of limb zucchini I'd normally associate with the name. I was given the recipe by Tamara Meitlis, a friend and a wise cook who would tell you - and I can't agree more here - to get all your vegetables prep done before you start cooking. I also advise you to follow the instructions closely; overcooking the vegetables is exactly the point here.
7 tbsp sunflower oil
2 small onions, cut into 1 1/4 inch dice
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 fresh green chili, thinly sliced (I used a jalapeno)
2 small red peppers, cut into a 1 1/2 inch dice
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into a 1 1/4 inch dice
1 small parsnip, peeled and cut into a 1 1/4 inch dice
1 cup french beans, trimmed
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1 1/4 inch dice
1/2 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 1/4 inch dice
1 small potato, peeled and cut into a 1 1/4 inch dice
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
salt and black pepper
1 cup water
chopped cilantro to garnish (optional)
*I prepared all the vegetables and piled them up on a baking sheet. It worked great.
Pour two-thirds of the oil into a large heavy casserole dish or a pot and place on a medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, stir in the garlic, chili and red peppers and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the squash and parsnip and continue frying for 5 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, lift the vegetables out of the pot and into a medium bowl, leaving as much of the oil in the pot as possible. Top this up with remaining oil. Add the French beans, zucchini and eggplant to the hot oil and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Return the contents of the bowl to the pot. Add the potato, tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste and plenty of salt and pepper. Stir well, then pour in the water. Cover with a lid and leave to simmer gently for 30 minutes. Taste the vegetables and add more salt and pepper, if you like.
Finally, preheat the oven to 400 F. Use a slotted spoon to gently lift the vegetables from the pot and into a large, deep roasting pan to make a layer about 1 1/4 inches thick. Pour the liquid over the vegetables and place in the oven to cook for 30 minutes. At this point all the vegetables should be very soft and most of the liquid evaporated. Garnish with cilantro, if you like, and serve.