Sunday, August 23, 2009
A great aunt who spent some girlhood years in Greece and Turkey taught my mom to make an incredible "Imam baiili" a sort of eggplant and tomato stew, rich, melty and fragrant of hot summers. But my mother had another summery recipe in her repertoire and it was the famous ratatouille of Provence.A medley of the few vegetables found around the local farm gardens.The real trick of the successful ratatouille is to cook each vegetable separately, since they soften at different times, and to finish it off by blending it all in one glorious ode to the South. I have to say that she mastered that dish and not only it tasted heavenly but it looked beautiful, since each vegetable had retained its original color.But it also took a long time to make.
So, for the sake of my love of roasted eggplants( reminiscence of the Baiili) and my summery devotion to a few ratatouilles each year, I decided to cut corners and roast the "rata" as it is called casually around the tables of France.
First I cubed the eggplant and sprinkled it with oregano, salt and olive oil.in it went in a 425o oven.then, I transferred the eggplant into a bowl and filled the gratin dish with layers of olive oil, tomato sauce , the roasted eggplant , the cubed zucchinis,diced garlic,chopped basil and topped it with slices of early girls tomatoes.a little salt ,pepper, pepper flakes and Parmesan and in it went for 30 minutes.No as pretty as my mom's rata was but so deep in flavors, just as meltingly rich as I could hope for.