Most people shy away from recipes with long lists of ingredients and many steps. Not me! Nope, I have always been weirdly attracted to those recipes that are excessively long and complicated. Somehow I feel that the longer the ingredient list, the better the recipe must be. Well, those of us who have been cooking for a long time know that this reasoning is not always true. Some of my favourite dishes are brutally simple – just a few perfectly combined flavours, making a mind-blowing dish. But sometimes those long lists and many steps do make a dish that you really want to write home about. Today, I am sharing the latter with you. I found the recipe in a must-have new cookbook called: “British Columbia From Scratch”, by Denise Marchessault and Caroline West. This recipe is long, has a whole bunch of steps, and will take you several hours to make, but it is worth every hour you will spend preparing it. The layers of flavours are gorgeous. You will want to share it with as many people as possible, and it is more than blog-worthy! This recipe would be a show-stopper at any of your family events. Bring this beauty to a pot-luck or picnic, and you will be the talk of the town!
What I do suggest is that you take your time with it. Crack open a good bottle of wine and enjoy the whole process. Make the pastry in advance. Make the ratatouille in advance and refrigerate it overnight. Then assemble and bake it the next day. I did it all in one go, and found myself getting just a wee bit impatient.
I am happy to be sharing my Ratatouille Pie with the gang at Fiesta Friday (co-hosted by the lovely Jhuls, of The Not So Creative Cook) this week, and Saucy Saturdays @ Take Two Tapas. Come and join the fun!
Flaky Pastry Dough (below)
1 large eggplant (about 1 ½ lb), sliced ½ inch thick
6 tablespoons olive oil, more as necessary
1 large onion, diced
1 large zucchini, diced
1 large red pepper, diced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-14 oz. can good quality plum tomatoes
1-6 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
18 large Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Siracha
3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil
1¾ cups ricotta cheese, strained in a sieve to remove excess water
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 egg, slightly beaten for brushing the pastry
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Prepare the pastry according to the instructions below. Roll out the dough for the base, lid, and decorative braid.
Eggplant: Spread the eggplant slices onto a paper towel and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Leave for at least 30 minutes, for the salt to draw out any bitterness. Blot the eggplant slices dry.
Ratatouille Filling: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet, and working in batches, cook the eggplant over medium heat until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Add additional oil as necessary to prevent sticking. Set aside to cool.
In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the onion and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the zucchini, red pepper and salt and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for about 1 minute until aromatic. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Add the artichokes, pitted olives, hot sauce and herbs. Simmer uncovered over medium heat, until the liquid has completely evaporated and the mixture has thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired. Set aside to cool completely.
Cheese Filling: Combine all of the cheeses and a beaten egg and mix well. Set aside.
Pastry Base: Roll about 2/3 of the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and form a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch springform pan, pressing against the sides for a smooth fit. Trim the dough at the top of the pan so that there is no overhang. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you are preparing the rest.
Pastry Lid: Roll out the balance of the dough into a 1/8 inch thick circle to shape the lid. Trim the dough to the size of the pan with a scant ¼ inch overhang. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you are preparing the rest. When the dough is chilled, cut vents in the lid.
Pastry Braid: Gather together the rest of the pastry and roll into 3 long strips about ½ to 1 inch wide. Place the strips onto a lightly floured surface and gently braid the strips together. You may need to join a couple of braids to fit the circumference of the pan. Refrigerate while you are assembling.
Assembly: Spread the cheese mixture evenly along the base of the pastry-lined springform pan. Top with the eggplant slices. Then add the cooled ratatouille filling on top and smooth evenly.
Brush the exposed edges of the pastry with the beaten egg, then place the pastry lid over the filling, pressing the edges of the dough together to form a seal. Brush the edges of the pastry lid with the beaten egg, then run the braid along the edge, pressing gently so that it adheres to the pastry lid. Brush the remaining pastry with egg.
Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes until the pastry is golden. Allow to rest for 1 hour before serving.
Flaky Pastry Dough
Enough for 1 double-crust pie
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ lb lard or solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon white vinegar
ice cold water
Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the lard and cut in until the mixture is crumbly.
In a measuring jug, combine the egg, vinegar and enough water to equal 1 cup. Mix with a fork. Gradually pour about half the liquid into the flour mixture and mix with a fork, adding only enough to make the dough cling together in an untidy mass. You won’t use all the water.
When the dough becomes too difficult to mix with a fork, transfer it to a lightly floured work surface and shape into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
The dough is now ready to roll out and use in your recipe. It can be stored in the fridge for 2 days or in the freezer for up to 6 weeks.