Ratatouille with Sun-dried Vegetables
Enhanced flavor with sun-dried vegetables and shio-koji
Classic-style donabe (medium-size)
- 4 medium zucchini, cut into 1/3" (8 mm) thick disks
- 6 medium Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/3" (8 mm) thick disks
- 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 orange bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
- 5 oz (150 g) shimeji mushrooms
- 6 oz (180 g) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly-sliced
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) crushed tomato (in a jar or can)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 tablespoons shio-koji or 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Place the cut zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, and shimeji mushrooms in baskets, and let them sun-dry until they are slightly shrank and dry on the surface (a few hours to half day). Rinse and pat dry. Cut off the bottom of the shimeji mushrooms and pull apart by hand.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven at 350F (180F) degrees. In a sheet pan, toss the cherry tomatoes with a small amount of olive oil and season with some salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook the zucchini until both sides are lightly browned over medium-high heat (about 1-2 minutes each side). Transfer to a bowl. In the same sauté pan, heat 3 -4 tablespoons olive oil and cook the eggplant the same way as zucchini. Add more olive oil, if necessary. Transfer the eggplant into the same bowl as the zucchini. Set aside.
- In a donabe, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and sauté the onion and fennel seeds over moderate heat until the onion is very soft (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic and sauté for a couple more minutes. Add the bell peppers and shimeji mushrooms, and sauté until the bell peppers are soft (3-4 minutes).
- Add the crushed tomatoes, shio-koji, zucchini, and eggplant and set over medium-high heat. As soon as the sauce starts boiling, turn down the heat to simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add a good pinch of black pepper. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary. Add the cherry tomatoes and gently stir. Turn off the heat and let it rest for a few hours. For even better flavor, transfer the content to a different bowl and let it rest overnight in refrigerator.
- When it’s ready to serve, Add the basil and stir gently. Drizzle more olive oil. Serve cold or at a room temperature.
Sun-drying the vegetables can make the dish richer (less watery). The umami level increases and the texture become better, too.
It’s an extra but quite simple process of cooking zucchini and eggplant separately before adding to the donabe. This process can help keeping the ingredients from collapsing.
About the measurements used in our recipes
|For rice measurement, traditional Japanese rice measurement is used.|
|1 rice-cup = 3/4 US cup = 180 ml|
|Other conversions (US to metric measures)|
|1 cup = 240 ml
1 inch (1") = 2.5 cm
1 ounce (1 oz) = 30 ml