A traditional Niçoise vegetable specialty, ratatouille pairs exceptionally well with lamb. It can be prepared in advance and reheated, providing ample time for the cook to attend to the rest of the dinner and to the guests. A full-bodied red wine would complement this meal.
- For Lamb:
- 1 rack of lamb with 8 chops, about 3 pounds, bones frenched
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups sliced yellow onions
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 3 zucchini, cut crosswise into pieces 1/2 inch thick
- 1 eggplant, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise into pieces 1/2 inch thick
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded, deribbed and cut into large pieces
- 2 1/2 cups diced plum (Roma) tomatoes
- 3 fresh basil sprigs, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
FOR LAMB: Place the lamb in a shallow nonreactive container and rub all over with the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours, or as long as overnight.
FOR RATATOUILLE: In a large saucepan or heavy frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion slices and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes longer. Add the zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until heated through, another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and stir well. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.
Uncover the pan; the mixture should still be quite liquid. Cook until the mixture thickens, another 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool briefly and stir in the parsley. Set aside. (At this point, the ratatouille can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
Before the ratatouille is done, prepare a fire in a charcoal grill using hardwood charcoal such as mesquite or hickory.
When the coals have burned down to a gray ash, place the lamb on the grill with the convex side of the rack bones facing down. Cook for 6-8 minutes, turn over, cook for another 6-8 minutes, turn over one more time and cook for a final 2-3 minutes for medium-rare. To check doneness, cut an incision into the underside of the lamb. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes in a warm spot.
While the lamb is cooking, if needed, reheat the ratatouille in a saucepan over medium-high heat until heated through, 8-10 minutes.
TO SERVE: Cut the rack into 2-bone portions and serve immediately, accompanied with some of the ratatouille.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
960 calories; 60g total fat; 259mg cholesterol; 1799mg sodium; 29g carbohydrates; 9g fiber; 76g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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