My blog has been a little short on recipes this summer. Partly it's because we eat out more during the warmer months, which gives me more material for restaurant reviews. When we have been eating at home, I've been focusing on favorite recipes that I've already posted: we've eaten lots of pasta with fresh sauce and linguine with zucchini and chickpeas, the first cabbage of the CSA season became a satisfying meal of halushki, and batch of roasted tomatillo salsa was the perfect topping for the rice and bean bowls we had last weekend. The fresh, local produce season in Minnesota is short, so I've been sticking with the beloved recipes I only get to pull out a for a couple months out of the year.
But there has been some experimentation thanks to Mollie Katzen's The Heart of the Plate. Last March, I spent a blissful few weeks cooking from a library copy (Lablabi, Hot-Sweet-Sour Soup with Tofu and Pineapple, Cheese Crusted Roasted Cauliflower, Spring Farro, and Farro and Tuscan White Beans), so I was thrilled to get my very own copy for my birthday last month. Since I am the sort of cook for whom planning is half the fun, I've been poring over the recipes and making lists of weeknight recipes and more ambitious weekend projects, organized by season. Grilled Ratatouille Salad, a marinated salad of zucchini and eggplant, fell into the ambitious summer weekend project category, so when I got an eggplant in last week's CSA share I knew exactly what to do with it.
Since I don't have a grill pan, my ratatouille salad was sauteed instead of grilled, and I halved the recipe. Even with the smaller quantities of vegetables, there is still quite a bit of slicing and cooking. Setting up two skillets for cooking the vegetables speeds up the process; since I only have one large skillet, I used a skillet and my Dutch oven. To ensure that the vegetables soak up as much marinade as possible, slice them into long, thin strips by cutting the vegetables crosswise into 2-inch chunks, placing each chunk cut-side down on the cutting board, and then vertically slicing off pieces as thin as possible.
Although it is a lot of work, the finished salad is worth the effort: crisp-tender zucchini and silky eggplant, saturated with an herbal olive oil vinaigrette. Add some homemade bread and you have the perfect Sunday night supper.
Adapted from The Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen
Yield: 2 main dish servings or 4 side servings
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons minced shallots
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
- dash of pepper
- 3-3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 medium zucchinis, cut crosswise into 2-inch chunks and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled, cut crosswise into 2-inch chunks, and thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
Whisk together vinegar, shallots, garlic, salt, sugar, thyme, oregano, and pepper in a 8x8 glass baking dish. Gradually add 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and whisk to blend. Place baking dish near stove.
Heat one or two large skillets over medium heat for about a minute. Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to each skillet and tilt to evenly coat. In batches, use tong to place strips of zucchini in a single layer in skillet and cook until crisp-tender, a few minutes per side. Remove zucchini from skillet and add to baking dish with marinade.
Once all of the zucchini has been cooked, repeat the process with the eggplant: place strips of eggplant in skillet and cook until completely soft, a few minutes per side. Remove eggplant from skillet and add to baking dish with zucchini and marinade.
When all of the vegetables have been cooked, stir vegetable mixture thoroughly to evenly distribute marinade. Let sit for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve at room temperature.