By: Beth Jones
Consider this the ratatouille of the Caucasus region, full of vegetables and fresh herbs. Best served with flatbread and a hearty Georgian wine. Serves 4-6.
- 2 large eggplants, cut into 1 inch dice
- 2-4 Tablesoons sunflower or other neutral oil
- 2 large onions, thin jullienne
- 4 large carrots, cut into half moons
- 3 large bell peppers (preferably of various colors), large dice
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
- 4 large tomatoes, large dice
- 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup cilantro, stems and all, rough chop
- 1 cup fresh parsley, stems and all, rough chop
- 1 cup fresh basil, rough chop
Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onions and carrots. Cook for 6-8 minutes, or until vegetables are slightly golden. Add the eggplant and a bit more oil and fry until softened and beginning to brown. Stir in the peppers and cook for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low.
From this point on, be very gentle when stirring the vegetables, as over-mixing will result in mush. Continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes, occasionally stirring to make sure the vegetables aren’t burning at the bottom.
In a small bowl, mix the fresh herbs. Stir half of the herbs into the stew, and then remove from the heat. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve with warm pita, and the remaining fresh herbs.
Chef Beth and her son preparing vegetables for the stew at our Saturday cooking class, Mill City Cooks.