Aubergine is the color of the month (or at least, according to the Caramelized Supper Club), and I couldn't think of a more perfect side dish than a rich baked eggplant ratatouille.
Layers of eggplant and zucchini are immersed in garlic, blistered cherry tomatoes, and fragrant thyme. If you select an appropriate baking dish, it can be immediately transferred to the table for serving. We're all about convenience!
Give yourself enough time to let the eggplant soak in salt, as it removes the "bitter" notes for which eggplant is notorious. The process will yield a tender and flavorful supper side.
1 eggplant, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large zucchini, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons Sea salt
3/4 cup olive oil
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 cup torn basil leaves
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss eggplant, zucchini and salt in a colander. Let sit 30 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.
2. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add half of eggplant and zucchini and cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables begin to take on color, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with ¼ cup oil and remaining eggplant and zucchini.
3. Tie thyme sprigs together with kitchen twine. Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in same pot and cook onion, garlic, and thyme, until onion begins to brown and is softened, approx. 8 minutes. Add half of tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir in zucchini and eggplant, then top with remaining 1 pint tomatoes (do not stir). Season with salt and pepper.
5. Transfer pot to oven and roast until tomatoes have begun to burst, 15–20 minutes.
6. Remove thyme bundle. Transfer to serving platter and top with basil.
PAIR WITH | Masseria li Veli Salento, Puglia Susumaniello 2014, $21.99
"This 'indigenous' grape was on the verge of extinction; had it not been for the opening of the wine world to the new and different, this ancient and beautiful grape would have been lost to time. Concentrated but not heavy, the taste is soft, but strangely plump. And while other Southern Italian wines can tend towards weight after fermentation, this Susumanillo is almost lithe and nimble. It still is, however, a southern grape, and therefore nuanced in red berry with hints of tomato skin and dried herbs. But almost quixotically, there are delicious licorice, rhubarb and tobacco flavors that marry oh-so-well to the complex and savory nature of eggplant." - Brian Herrera, Memphis wine expert