No dish is more fitting for summer ingredients than a ratatouille. Sweet summer tomatoes, red peppers, zucchinis, and eggplant all layered together. At this point in the summer they are all pretty much lined up for you at the farmer’s market. At first this dish looks rather labor intensive, however it was accomplished over a course of a couple of days. I would highly recommend making the cilantro pesto a couple days prior to the paninis. One: it develops more flavor over time, and two: you can use it in just about anything: pizza, pasta, sandwiches, mixed vegetables, soups, bruschetta…the list is endless.
1 bunch cilantro
1 ½ cups walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil (1-1 ½ cups)
salt and pepper to taste
(sometimes I add a little lemon juice or zest depending on what I have in mind for the making…)
Rinse and trim cilantro. Add cilantro, walnuts, Parmesan cheese, and garlic into a blender. Add about ½ cup olive oil and begin to blend. Keep adding olive oil, in a thin stream while blending, until mixture begins to spin freely. You may need to stop and stir a couple of times. Salt and pepper to taste.
Although ratatouille is a perfected and classic french dish, I generally need a little more texture than what casseroles have to offer. However, I just love the flavor profile of a ratatouille and its nod to summer. I started off with a Julia Child classic preparation and then jumped ship completely. I used cilantro pesto in place of basil, and threw everything on some delicious, crusty, francese rolls.
(makes about 2-3 sandwiches)
1 small eggplant, peeled and cut lengthwise
1 large zucchini, cut lengthwise
½ red pepper, sliced lengthwise into strips
½ basket grape tomatoes, cut in half, or whatever tomatoes your market has that looks delicious
¼ yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 small cloves garlic, minced
herbes de Provence
Parmesan cheesse, shredded
Mix slices of both zucchini and eggplant with about 1 tsp of kosher salt and let stand in a bowl for approximately 30 minutes. This will draw out the excess water, and leave all the flavor. Remove from the bowl, and then pat dry with a clean cloth. Heat frying pan to medium high heat, add about ½ tbs olive oil. Fry all slices of eggplant and zucchini in a single layer until golden brown and a little crispy, flipping as necessary and remove from pan. Add a little more olive oil to the pan, and then add peppers, tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Lightly salt and season gently with herbes de Provence. Cook until heated thoroughly, but peppers still remain a little crunchy.
Preheat panini iron or a pan, and prepare a weight to press the sandwich. Cut rolls in half lengthwise and lightly toast. Mix together 2 parts mayonnaise and 1 part cilantro pesto. Spread mixture on both halves of toasted bread. Layer eggplant and zucchini and then top with pepper, tomato, and onion mixture. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese and then last piece of bread. Place whole sandwich in the panini iron, cook until bread is crispy and cheese is melted. Serve hot.
Cook together, toast to each other, and enjoy!