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This vegetarian casserole was adapted from a recipe on The New York Times online. The original calls for dairy-based corn biscuits and sausage in the filling – nisht koosher. So I substituted walnuts and mozzarella for the sausage. The robust flavors of eggplant and tomatoes marry well with the mild cheese, walnuts provide meatiness and crunch, and crisp cornbread over all makes the dish perfect for the cooler autumn weather. I’m keeping this recipe for one of the Sukkot meals.
In spite of the long list of ingredients, it really only takes about 1/2 hour to assemble and pop in the oven. The secret is to put all your chopped vegetables into separate bowls. Then you can just throw everything together as needed.
Ratatouille Covered with Cornbread
printable version here
Ingredients for Roasted Vegetables:
1 medium eggplant or 1/2 large one
2 medium zucchinis
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil
Ingredients for Cooked Vegetables:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
3 large tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley (basil’s better!)
1 cup walnut halves
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Ingredients for the cornbread biscuits:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt – not low-fat (I use kefir)
Preheat the oven to 450°F -230° C
1. Peel the zukes. Chop them, and the eggplant, into pieces of about 1″.
2. Toss the vegetable chunks with the olive oil, salt, and a little pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet, taking care not to crowd them. Roast for 20 minutes or until they are golden.
3. Meantime, peel and chop the onions. Chop the bell pepper into 1″ pieces. Chop the tomatoes. Crush or finely chop the garlic.
4. In a medium pan, fry the onions till they’re wilted. Add the bell pepper; stir and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and garlic. Stir and cook till the mixture becomes thick, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Stir the basil or parsley in.
Cover the pan and turn the flame off. Now make the biscuits.
1. Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. Cut the butter in until the mixture is crumby. You can use your your hands for this, rubbing the butter in through the dry ingredients, or cut it in with a pastry knife, or fork.
3. Stir the sour cream in . Gently knead mixture until it comes together in a ball, adding a drop or two of milk if necessary.
Note: you can do the whole operation in a food processor, blending the dry ingredients with the knife blade, then adding butter chunks and finally adding the cream. Don’t over-process, just let it whiz till you have a ball of dough.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it till you need it.
1. Spoon a thick layer of the ratatouille on the bottom of a medium casserole or 2-quart baking pan.
2. Coarsely crumble the walnuts in your hand; spread the pieces over the vegetables.
3. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella over all.
4. Repeat the previous three steps. Spread the ingredients around the casserole, smoothing them down to make a level surface.
5. Take the biscuit dough and separate it into 6 pieces. With your hands, press each piece into a biscuit; lay the biscuits on top of the whole.
6. Brush the biscuits with milk.
Bake the ensemble 20-25 minutes, or till the biscuits are golden. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.