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Ratatouille Polenta Bowl

Ratatouille Polenta Bowl Recipe - In most ratatouille recipes, mushiness is the fatal flaw. Salting the eggplant and zucchini draws out their excess water, seasons them, and ensures that they crisp rather than steam when they hit the hot pan. The cubed vegetables are carefully pan-fried in separate batches, to ensure perfection. Be patient and attentive; it’ll be worth it. Instead of a slow-cooked tomato sauce as a binder, cherry tomatoes are cooked quickly over high heat until they burst, resulting in bright tomato flavor and a chunky consistency that functions more as a component than as a saucy backdrop. Serving this ratatouille with a poached egg and over soft polenta is my favorite, but it can also be served with rice, mixed grains, or farro.

SERVES 4
Ratatouille Polenta Bowl Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 medium Japanese eggplants or ½ large globe eggplant (8 to 10 ounces)
  • 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta (not instant)
  • 4 large soft- or crispy-fried eggsor poached eggs, optional
  • ¼ cup crumbled semi-firm goat cheese
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

How to make Ratatouille Polenta Bowl

  1. If desired, peel the eggplant with a vegetable peeler. Dice into ½-inch cubes. Toss with ½ teaspoon of the salt and transfer to a colander or spread out on a paper towel–lined baking sheet. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes. Blot dry with a clean kitchen towel.
  2. Trim the ends off the zucchini and dice into ½-inch cubes. Toss with another ½ teaspoon salt and transfer to a separate colander or paper towel–lined baking sheet. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes. Blot dry with a clean kitchen towel.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in your widest skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, spreading in a single layer. Cook for 4 to 7 minutes, until they blister, swirling the pan periodically. (Be cautious of oil splattering.) Add the garlic, stir until fragrant, then transfer the tomato mixture to a mixing bowl.
  4. Wipe out the skillet and return it to the heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the eggplant. If it doesn’t fit in a comfortable single layer, cook it in two batches. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, turning periodically, until golden brown all over on the outside and tender on the inside but not mushy—check for doneness by tasting frequently. Adjust the heat as needed, raising it if the eggplant doesn’t seem be browning quickly enough or lowering it if it starts to burn. Transfer to the bowl with the tomatoes.
  5. Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the zucchini, again cooking in two batches if it doesn’t fit in a comfortable single layer. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, turning periodically, until golden brown all over and crisp-tender on the inside. Adjust the heat as needed. Transfer to the bowl with the tomatoes and eggplant. Sprinkle the oregano over the vegetables, grind a few turns of black pepper over, and stir gently to combine.
  6. While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the polenta. Bring the water to boil in a saucepan. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and sprinkle in the polenta while whisking constantly. When the water comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle, gurgling simmer. Continue whisking until the grains begin to suspend in the liquid rather than sink to the bottom, and then stir periodically until the polenta is thick and grains are tender, usually 15 to 25 minutes, but check the package instructions and taste as you go. Keep covered until ready to serve. If it thickens too much as it sits, you can thin it with a bit of hot water just before serving.
  7. Divide the polenta among four bowls, then spoon the ratatouille over the polenta in each. Top each serving with 1 egg, if using, then the goat cheese. Tear