1870 Banana Courtyard French Quarter
Creole Grilled Mirliton Ratatouille: Main Dish
2 lb mirlitons
1 lb eggplant
1 lb onions
4 red bell peppers
2 lb tomatoes(Tomate Concassee peeled, seeded and chopped
10 clove garlic
6 oz olive oil
2/3 cup chopped parsley (Italian flat)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons creole seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (OR)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mirlitons (pronounced MEL-lee-tawns or MER-lee-tawns) are a type of squash found growing wild and in backyards throughout southern Louisiana. They're pale green, with a delicate flavor and a large, dense central seed. In other parts of the country, they're called chayote squash. I We've used them as the primary ingredient in this variation on the classic ratatouille. If you don't want to grill the mirlitons and eggplant, you can instead brush them with olive oil and bake them on a sheet pan until half-cooked. YIELD: About 20 four-ounce portions. This recipe is for a large group. Adjust portions according to how much you want to make.
Cut the mirlitons in half and scoop out the seed, then slice into 1/2" slices. Peel the eggplant and slice into 1/2" slices. Degorgé the eggplant slices to draw out the juices and bitterness (sprinkle them with salt, place in colander to drain for about 30 minutes. Pat with paper towel to get rid of excess liquid). While the eggplant is draining, slice the onions crossways 1/4" thick, then cut each slice in half to end up with semicircular pieces of onion. Core and seed the peppers and chop into 1/2" dice. Chop the garlic. Prepare the Tomate Concassée, as follows: skin, seed and dice the tomatoes: bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Fill a bowl with cold water and set aside.
Remove the stems from the tomatoes and make a shallow, cross-shaped incision in the opposite ends. Gently lower the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 10 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop immediately into the bowl of cold water. Peel off the skins with a paring knife. Halve the tomatoes crosswise and squeeze gently to remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into 1 cm (1/4 inch) dice Brush the mirliton and eggplant slices with olive oil and grill (or bake) until about half-cooked. (Some nice cross-hatch grill marks would be particularly nice.) Sautéé the onions and peppers in the remaining olive oil until half-cooked. Add the garlic, and sautéé for one additional minute.
Cut the grilled mirliton and eggplant slices into large dice. Combine all the vegetables and seasonings into a heavy saucepan. Cover and cook in a 350°̊F oven for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the flavors are well-blended. If the vegetables are too juicy, cook uncovered on the stove top for a few minutes to reduce, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Adjust seasonings. Serve hot or cold.
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