WRITTEN ON October 2nd, 2009 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Dinner, Pasta, Tomatoes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian, Zucchini

There is something so homey and comforting and simple about ratatoullie.  It makes me nostalgic for the French grandmother I didn’t actually have (but if I had had one, she would have made me ratatoullie.  I just know it).  Ratatoullie has that certain je ne se qois; a sense of place  even when eaten far away from the place it calls home (the south of France).  Even people who don’t love vegetables love ratatoullie.  It’s excellent smeared on bread with a healthy drizzle of olive oil, or with grilled meats.  This time I tried it with pasta (actually, I was planning on using whole wheat pasta but kept on reaching into the cupboard to no avail…we’re out.  But it would pair perfectly.  I highly suggest it) for a vegetarian weeknight meal that makes the most of that late summer produce.  Makes a great chilly day meal, and it’s pretty much comfort food sans guilt.

I smell a rat

I smell a rat

Ratatoullie Pasta with Lemon-Thyme Ricotta (serves 2)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
1 red bell pepper
1 large zucchini
1 small eggplant
2 plum tomatoes
3 springs thyme, picked and chopped
¼ cup white wine
5 leaves of fresh basil, torn
Salt and pepper to taste
½ box of medium sized pasta shells
For the Ricotta:
¼ cup whole milk ricotta
zest of ½ a lemon
1 sprig thyme, picked and chopped
Freshly cracked black pepper

Stir together all ingredients for the ricotta, set aside. Dice all veggies in a large dice so that they are similar in size. In a large heavy saucepan, heat olive oil.  Add onions and peppers, sauté until soft and starting to color.  Season with salt and pepper. Add eggplant, season with a sprinkle of salt.  Cook until starting to get soft, about 5 minutes.  Add zucchini, repeat same steps.  Add tomatoes, thyme, and crushed red pepper.  Season again with salt and pepper.  Continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, until all veggies are soft and fragrant.  Add wine, simmer while scraping the bottom of the pan for all the browned bits.  Put on a pot of water for the pasta. Turn heat on veggies to low and slowly cook while pasta water is coming to a boil.  Cook pasta to al dente.  Before draining, take ¼ cup of the pasta water and add it to your ratatoullie. Add pasta to ratatoullie, toss in basil.  Check for seasoning, add salt and pepper if it needs it.  Serve topped with a dollop of ricotta and a light drizzle of olive oil.

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