Ratatouille (version VII)

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1 medium-sized eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (place cubes in a colander, sprinkle lightly with salt and toss - let drain for 1/2 hour)
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 ribs celery, diced
4 fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
balsamic vinegar to taste
8 fresh basil leaves, minced

Put olive oil in a sauce pan with a tight fitting lid and place over medium heat. When oil is hot, add garlic and stir for 1/2 minute. Add onions, both peppers and celery and sauté until onion becomes translucent. Add eggplant cubes and continue to sauté for five more minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar. Cover the pan. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring to make sure the ingredients do not scorch. Remove from heat. Add the basil leaves and 1 to 3 tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar to taste. Correct seasonings and bring to room temperature. May be served immediately or chilled and served as a side dish.



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