Stir-frying is traditionally associated with Asian styles of cooking, but has been integrated into many Western recipes. Stir-frying is simply a type of sauté done at high temperatures and with constant motion. Due to its design, a wok is the traditional tool used for stir-frying as it concentrates the heat in a very small area at the bottom of the pan. A wok, however, is not required to achieve the desired effect.
The key to successful stir-frying in a skillet is to incorporate ingredients which have the same approximate cooking times to avoid over or under cooking any of the individual components. Often it is necessary to precook the ingredients ahead of time to give them all the same approximate cooking times. Once added to the skillet, the ingredients are tossed or stirred constantly to enliven their flavor and yet diminish their crisp texture as little as possible.
Ratatouille, the classical French dish, was traditionally a vegetable stew blending the flavors of spring vegetables with tomatoes and herbs. This quick and easy version captures the essence of the traditional dish while allowing the freshness of the veggies to come through.
What you will need:
1 eggplant, peeled and sliced batonnet
1 zucchini, sliced batonnet
1 summer squash, sliced batonnet
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 roma tomatoes
1 small onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonade
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the sliced eggplant and squashes in a colander and dust with salt. Allow to rest in the sink for 30 minutes. The salt will wick out much of the water from the vegetables and prevent them from turning to mush when cooked. Give them a quick rinse once they’ve expelled their juice to wash away the excess salt.
Roast the peppers over an open flame until charred. Place them in a plastic bag to allow the steam to separate the skins from the meat. Remove the skins and seeds and slice batonnet.
Drop the tomatoes into boiling water for about ten seconds and shock them in an ice bath. Remove the skins and seeds and slice batonnet.
Trim and peel the onion. Slice the onion in half and slice each half lengthwise (from stem to stem) to create onion pedals.
Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat. Sauté the onions until they just begin to darken. Add the eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, and peppers. Sauté for 5 minutes until heated through. Add the tomatoes and herbs and toss with a little salt and pepper.
To serve as a side, place a few artichoke bottoms in a steamer until heated and serve the ratatouille in the cup-shaped artichokes.
To make a tasty meal out of this traditional side, toss a pound of boiled and rinsed angel-hair pasta with the ratatouille.