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- 2 large red sweet peppers
- 1 large bulb of garlic, 2 cloves removed and chopped, rest of the bulb sliced across the top to expose the ends of remaining cloves for roasting
- Olive oil, for drizzling plus 1/4 cup
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large firm eggplant, diced into bite-sized chunks
- 1 rib celery, finely chopped
- 1 red onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 medium zucchini, (seeded if large) cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stripped
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, stripped
- 1 large fresh bay leaf
- 1 can San Marzano tomatoes, hand crush as you add them to pot
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups stock or milk (for a richer flavor)
- 1 1/4 cups cornmeal or quick-cooking polenta
- A few grates nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 handfuls grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 teaspoons Acacia honey
- 1/2 cup pitted Niçoise or other black olives
- 1 tablespoon lemon or orange zest
- A handful of flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Char the peppers under broiler or over a flame to blacken skins evenly. Place peppers in a bowl, cover and let cool. Peel and seed peppers then dice into bite-sized pieces.
Drizzle olive oil over the exposed ends of the garlic bulb then season with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly in foil and roast 40-45 minutes until soft. Let cool then push cloves from skins and mash into a paste; reserve.
Meanwhile, salt eggplant and leave in colander for 30 minutes. Press out all the excess liquid.
Heat olive oil, 4 turns of the pot, in Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add the chopped roasted peppers, eggplant, celery, onions, chopped garlic, zucchini, fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Partially cover and cook to soften, 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, lower heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Heat stock and milk to a low simmer. Whisk in cornmeal or polenta and whisk until massed and tender. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg; add butter and cheese. Stir in roasted garlic paste and honey.
Finely chop olives, zest and parsley together.
In shallow bowls, make a nest of roasted garlic polenta with a shallow well in the center. Top with ladles of ratatouille and sprinkle with gremolata.