When I made my version of baked ratatouille back in July, I had intended to follow up with suggestions of other things you could do with leftovers, or leftover ingredients, as I always have leftover components but have not yet found a store that will sell me two-thirds of one zucchini and a half an eggplant. I really hate having a quarter eggplant leftover, because I’m very unlikely to use it and incapable of throwing it away, so what usually happens is I stash it in the fridge where it gets forgotten about, rots, is found a month later as when I scream in horror and throw it away afterall, having flashbacks to that time I lived with three friends and we were cleaning out the fridge and found something completely awful way in the back and Dave said “sorry, that was my kiwi” and I was like, “uh, that’s a lemon.”
I digress. Here are some of the other ways we have used elements of this non-traditional “ratatouille”:
- Breakfast: The leftovers make a great breakfast, whether folded into an omelet, crepe or as a base for a poached egg, my favorite. I can find any excuse to eat a poached egg.
- Pasta or Grain: (Sadly, no pictures of these next two) Take a small stack of extra vegetables and cut them into thin, julienned strips. Repeat with remaining vegetables. Saute some minced garlic and chopped onion in olive oil in a pan until soft, add the julienned vegetables and cook them until they just begin to soften, just a minute or two. Pour one cup of the tomato puree or tomato sauce (a small can works great for this) and heat it until it simmers. Season it to taste and toss it with pasta or spoon it over a cooked grain, from bulgur to barley or couscous. This is one of my favorite “I will not gain weight over the holidays!” counter-attack meals.
- Frittata: Repeat the julilienning process above, continuing it in the opposite direction, cutting the matchsticks into a fine dice. Stir these bits and some finely sliced green onion into beaten eggs and cook as you would a frittata. Serve topped with a small amount of heated tomato puree or sauce, goat cheese or feta. Invite me over, please.
And now, one more for the list: ratatouille tart. As has become an annual tradition, our families came over for a Hanukah meal on Saturday. I chose to go the lunch route as I have never cooked a luncheon before and thought it might be a fun menu challenge. Yes, I just said “fun menu challenge.” Snicker, snicker–I can hear you, you know.
I put down the pate brisee long enough to admit that there are other approaches to tarts, one in particular I have all but ignored on this site: pate feuilletee, or puff pastry. You can’t beat it for easy prep (by that I mean buying it in the freezer section; making it at home is beyond the limits of even my craziness, right now), and when you’re making three tarts, latkes, soup, salad and a two-part dessert, it will be your very best friend.
This ended up being more of a fancy ratatouille pizza than a tart, but potato-potahto, I say. All that mattered was that it was delicious, and I’d make it again in a heartbeat. You too can save your sliced vegetables from kiwi/lemon fate!
One year ago: German Pancakes
14 ounces frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge overnight*
1 Asian eggplant
1 smallish zucchini
1 smallish yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
1/3 cup tomato puree (such as Pomi) or canned plain tomato sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Few sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup crumbled feta
Heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly flour a work surface, lay the sheet of pastry out, and gently roll until it measures about 11 x 15 inches. Slide the pastry onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, at about 1-inch intervals.
Spread the tomato puree or sauce evenly over the pastry, leaving a one-inch border around the edges.
Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as you can, trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact, like a tube.
On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick.
Arrange slightly overlapped slices of vegetables concentrically or in rows over the tomato puree or sauce, alternative vegetables. You’ll probably have a few leftover.
Drizzle vegetables with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle de-stemmed thyme leaves over the vegetables.
Bake in the heated oven until the pastry is puffed and browned (including on the bottom), 25 to 30 min and the vegetables look softened. Slide onto a cutting board, sprinkle with the feta, and cut into squares or strips. (A pizza wheel worked surprisingly well for this.) Serve warm or at room temperature.
* I don’t know how widely distributed it is, but those of you in NYC should look for a locally made (like, it’s practically closer for me to walk over to the factory) puff pastry from brand called DuFour that –once you get past the steep price tag–will blow your mind. Prior to trying it, I thought puff pastry was flaky, messy, dry and unsubstantial, pretty for sure but not fun to eat. Once I tried Dufour, I was immediately besmitten.