I have tried a variety of different ratatouille recipes and this one by far is the best. The variations are limited only by your imagination. Depending on what was in the refrigerator, I have added zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms. Today we stuck with the basic recipe. Serve it as a main dish or a side on it's own. I like to serve it over a little bit of pasta.
Baked Ratatouille with Cheese Custard
adapted from Gourmet September 1995
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds eggplant (about 1 large), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium onions, chopped fine
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
3 bell peppers (assorted colors), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound tomatoes, seeded and chopped fine, or a 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped fine
1 cup canned chick-peas, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
2/3 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
freshly ground black pepper to taste
For cheese custard
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup freshly Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
3 large egg yolks
In a skillet heat 1 tablespoons oil and cook half of eggplant, stirring frequently, until golden and tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer cooked eggplant to a 2- to 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Cook remaining eggplant in 1 tablespoons oil in same manner and add to dish.
In the skillet cook onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes in the remaining tablespoon oil stirring, until onions are softened. Add the bell peppers and cook stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in remaining ratatouille ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Season mixture with salt and additional pepper and spoon evenly over eggplant.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Make cheese custard:
In a saucepan melt the butter over low heat and whisk in flour. Cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes and whisk in milk in a stream and salt and pepper to taste. Bring sauce to boil, whisking constantly, and simmer, whisking, 2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and remove pan from heat. In a heatproof bowl whisk yolks together and whisk in about one fourth of sauce. Whisk yolk mixture into remaining sauce. Spoon custard over ratatouille. Ratatouille may be prepared up to this point 4 hours ahead and chilled, covered.
Bake ratatouille in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until custard is lightly browned. Cool ratatouille 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 4 to 6 as a main course or 8 as a side dish.