Georgian Ratatouille (Ajapsandali) 10.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; food styling by Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post

Aug 1, 2018

Ajapsandali (a-ZHAP-sahn-DOLL-ee) is a bit prep-heavy, but once you have all the chopping out of the way, it’s only a matter of letting the vegetables cook down to a jamlike consistency.

Because the spiciness of jalapeños can vary, you might want to taste a small bit of it raw before using, and then adjust the amount in this recipe.

Serve it slightly warm, or better yet, cold with hearty chunks of bread and salty feta.

To read the accompanying story, see: Meet ratatouille’s fiery cousin, the dish that can turn your farmers market bounty into dinner.

Make Ahead: The salted eggplants need to sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This dish can be refrigerated days in advance and only gets better with age.


Servings:
10 - 12

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 10-12 servings; makes about 13 cups

Ingredients
  • 3 large eggplants, stemmed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch slices (about 4 pounds total)
  • Kosher salt
  • Sunflower or grapeseed oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, cut into half moons (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 3 bell peppers (preferably of various colors), seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded and finely chopped (see headnote)
  • 3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, squeezed of any extra juices, coarsely chopped (about 2 pounds; see NOTE)
  • 4 cloves garlic; 1 pressed/minced, the other 3 thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups cilantro, finely chopped (leaves and tender stems)
  • 3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • Leaves from 4 or 5 basil sprigs (preferably purple), stacked, rolled and cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade)

Directions

Place the eggplants in a colander (or two) set in the sink, then toss with 2 teaspoons of the salt. Let them sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour, then gently squeeze out excess moisture.

While the eggplants are draining, prep the rest of the vegetables: Heat a few tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Cooking in batches, add the eggplant slices and cook for about 10 minutes, turning them, until the both sides are golden brown. Add more oil as needed.

Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onions and carrots; cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until onions are translucent and slightly golden. Stir in the peppers and cook for 5 minutes, then add tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium; cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

Once the last of the eggplant has finished cooking, add all the cooked eggplant back to the pot. Reduce the heat to low. Carefully stir in the onion-tomato mixture. From this point on, be very gentle when stirring the vegetables; over-mixing will result in mush. Cook for 5 minutes, then taste and add more salt, as needed. If you find the tomatoes to be too acidic, add a bit of sugar. Continue to cook (uncovered) for 45 to 60 minutes, gently stirring maybe once or twice to make sure the vegetables aren’t burning at the bottom.

Once the ratatouille has cooked down significantly and is almost jamlike, stir in the pressed and sliced garlic and the fresh herbs. Cook for 5 minutes and then remove from the heat. Taste once again, and add salt and/or sugar, as needed.

Serve warm, or let cool completely before storing.

NOTE: To peel the tomatoes, fill a bowl with ice water. Cut an "X" in the bottom of each tomato and remove the stem. Place in a pot of boiling water for 10 or 15 seconds -- no longer. Use a slotted spoon to quickly transfer to the ice-water bath. The skins should simply slip off.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from baker Polina Chesnakova.

Tested by Miriam Albert.

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