I wanted more. Madeleine manages both the 77th St and 97th St greenmarkets, and as she explained their benefits (they accept EBT/food stamps to promote healthier eating, offer new recipes each week and have a coloring table for kids) all I could think about was getting more of the Eggplant and Tomato Ratatouille that she demonstrated. I figured the only way to get my fix was to make it at home.
Typically bruschetta is made with fresh tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar. However, topping slices of french bread with this Eggplant and Tomato Ratatouille is a lip-smacking twist that still enables you to take advantage of the abundant heirloom tomatoes available this time of year. Just continue to cook the dish until almost all of the liquid has evaporated so that you can spoon it over the bread. Regular vine ripened or beefsteak tomatoes and typical long purple eggplants work well in this dish, but I could not resist the rainbow of heirloom tomatoes and the round mauve eggplants at the market so I picked up a few to take home.
Heirloom tomatoes are juicier with balanced sweetness and acidity. Similar to the standard variety, heirloom tomatoes and basil are a match made in heaven. I was once told that the uglier the heirloom tomato, the better it will taste. However, I have to disagree that they are ugly. The bumps and varying colors give them interesting personalities.
The “round mauve eggplant” (yes, that is its official name) has a beautiful white interior. It is mild and meaty with no trace of bitterness so if you typically do not like eggplant, this is a good one to try. Also keep in mind that parsley is to eggplant as basil is to tomato (whoa, SAT flashback). You will often see parsley included in eggplant recipes because they complement each other so well.
The round mauve eggplant gave the ratatouille a delightfully sweet finish even without any added sugar. The dish was also brimming with flavor from the garlic, basil, oregano and parsley so that I could be lazy and not bother with rubbing garlic on the french bread slices. I went a step lazier and did not even toast the bread—it was still delicious. And if I cook the ratatouille to the point where it still has some liquid, it would be a great sauce on chicken, fish or pasta. Mmmmm…so many delicious ways to get my fix!
Eggplant & Tomato Ratatouille
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 medium eggplant (approximately 1 pound), cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium tomato (approximately 1/2 pound), cut in 1/2 inch cubes
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
basil, oregano, parsley or other fresh herbs, chopped
In a medium skillet heat the olive oil, then add the onion. Let the onion turn slightly glossy (about 1 minute), then add garlic. Give it a stir, then add the eggplant and tomato. Stir so all the ingredients are mixed well.
Cook on high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The water content from the vegetables will come to a boil then start to evaporate.
Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for another 20 – 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
The eggplant and tomato will darken and blend together. The mixture will thicken and reduce. Turn off the heat. Stir in the fresh herbs and serve warm or room temperature as a meal or an appetizer.
Greenmarket Recipe Series
I used fresh basil and parsley along with dried oregano. Add dried herbs just before adding the eggplant and tomato to the skillet so that the herbs have time to infuse the dish. Fresh herbs are added at the end to brighten up the dish. This is particularly important for basil, which loses its flavor and turns bitter when cooked.