Wednesday, September 23, 2009

SEPTEMBER 23 - PHILADELPHIA, PA - More Fun with Fusion: Ratatouille Manicotti

This is even better prepared ahead of time and served a couple days after it is assembled or baked. I made this yesterday and we (me and the boys in Cheers Elephant) enjoyed it after a morning of successful tracking...


serves 8

Ratatouille Sauce

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp sundried tomatoes, minced
3 roasted bell peppers, coursely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano (or 2 tbsp fresh, chopped)
4-6 cloves garlic, mashed
1/3 cup dry white wine
leftover grilled eggplant and zucchini (recipe below)
6 plum tomatoes, peeled, de-seeded, and coursely chopped
2 tbsp sugar

In a saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat.
Toss in the sundried tomatoes and roasted peppers and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
Add garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, oregano, until the garlic turns a pale brown (about a minute).
Pour in white wine and cook a minute longer.
Add eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and sugar.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
Simmer for 25-40 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and set aside.

Leftover grilled eggplant and zucchini:

The marinade is a mixture of:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 lb fairy tail or any slender, firm baby eggplant, halved
2 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/2" ribbons.

Combine marinade ingredients in a medium sized bowl or small baking dish and add vegetables. Marinate for 30 minutes while you preheat your grill.
Grill 10-12 minutes, turning and basting the vegetables occasionally with marinade, until nicely charred and cooked through.


Reserved Ratatouille Sauce
1/2 lb lasagna noodles, cooked in boiling salted water for 4 minutes
1/4 cup grated mozzarella

While the water boils, combine:
1 cup cooked spinach, squeezed dry (either frozen or freshly sautéed... with garlic)
2 cups part skim ricotta
4 oz goat cheese or cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup grated mozzarella
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
1/4 cup sliced basil
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
plenty of fresh ground black pepper

Adjust your oven racks so that one is placed in the upper third, and the other is in the lower third. Preheat to 375°F.

Place thin layer Ratatouille Sauce at the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.

Spread 2 tablespoons cheese filling into each lasagna noodle, rolling the short side up until you get a nice tube.
Place seam-side down into the baking dish. Repeat with remaining pasta until dish is full (duh).



Cover with remaining sauce and 1/4 cup of mozzarella.
Place aluminum foil on top of dish and place in lower third portion of the oven.
Bake for 40 minutes, then remove the foil, set the oven to broil and place the manicotti in the top rack.
Broil for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and slightly browned.
Cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving.
Throw some bread in the still-hot-but-off oven while the Manicotti is cooling.
Make a small batch of goilic and when ready to serve, drizzle it over the warmed bread (and what the heck, put some on the Manicotti too).

3 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
handful fresh basil, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Warm (all but basil) for 30 seconds in a small pan if you want to tame the garlic flavor.


... Yeah, those are pitas... I didn't have any baguettes... as I said, we were in the middle of recording...

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