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We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there.
Today: Breads and spreads.
What do ratatouille and white bean dip have in common? Lots of olive oil, a little Provençal je ne sais quoi, and -- if we're being honest -- a mushy texture. But this is mushiness of the best possible kind. Because both of these dishes are perfectly suited for spreading thickly on bread, and that means you should add a baguette (maybe two) to your shopping list.
This meal comes together quickly and relies only on sautéeing and food-processing, which means that the aroma of fresh herbs and the earthiness of late summer vegetables remain undisturbed. Save any leftover ratatouille in the refrigerator and serve it the next night with poached eggs, risotto, or creamy polenta. C'est parfait!
Serves 4, with ratatouille for tomorrow
1 medium eggplant (or 2 small ones)
2 medium onions
2 sweet peppers
3 medium summer squash
3 medium ripe tomatoes
1 bunch basil
2 cups cooked white beans
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons fresh parsley
You probably have salt, garlic, olive oil, dried chili flakes, and black pepper in your kitchen. If not, add those to the list, too.
1. Cut the eggplant into a 1/2-inch dice, toss the cubes with a teaspoon or so of salt, and set them in a colander to drain for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prep the rest of your ingredients: Cut the onions, peppers, squash, and tomatoes into a 1/2-inch dice and set them aside in separate bowls. Chop 4 to 6 garlic cloves and 6 basil leaves.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Pat the eggplant dry, add it to the pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until golden. If the eggplant sticks to the bottom of the pan, add more oil. When the eggplant is done, remove it from the pan and set it aside.
3. In the same pot, add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped onions and cook for about 7 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the chopped garlic, half of the basil bunch tied in a bouquet with kitchen twine, a pinch of dried chili flakes, and a bit more salt.
4. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in the peppers. After a few more minutes, add the squash and then, after a couple more minutes, add the tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes longer, then return to the eggplant back to the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, until the vegetables are soft.
5. Mince a clove of garlic and sauté it in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in another medium-sized pan. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the white beans, the rosemary, and the thyme. Sauté for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Transfer the sautéed beans to a food processor.
6. Return to the ratatouille and remove the basil bouquet, pressing it to release all of its flavor. Adjust the salt to taste, then stir in the chopped basil leaves and more olive oil.
7. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, black pepper to taste, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the white beans. Process on high, stopping occasionally to scrape down the bowl, until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Pulse in the fresh parsley. Drizzle with olive oil, slice your baguette, and serve the dip alongside the ratatouille.
Photos by James Ransom