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Ratatouille and Goat Cheese Subs
© John Kernick

Ratatouille and Goat Cheese Subs

  • ACTIVE: 1 HR
  • TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 30 MIN
  • SERVINGS: Makes 8 subs
  • MAKE-AHEAD
  • STAFF-FAVORITE
  • VEGETARIAN

Matt Neal had never made ratatouille before he opened Neal's Deli. He took the recipe from his father, the legendary Southern chef Bill Neal, and used it as the basis for his own version. Neal cooks the key ingredients—eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and onion—separately. "That way, I can make sure each vegetable cooks exactly how I want it; plus they won't steam in a big group all together," he says. "Customers request this sandwich all summer long, but we wait until the ingredients are available at the farmers' market before we serve it."

  1. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  3. 8 large thyme sprigs
  4. 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  5. 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  6. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  7. 2 medium zucchini (about 1/2 pound each), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  8. 2 red bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  9. 1 large onion, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  10. 3 large tomatoes—halved, seeded and finely chopped
  11. 1/4 cup shredded basil leaves
  12. 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  13. 8 hero rolls, split
  14. One 10-ounce log of fresh goat cheese, softened
  15. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  16. 4 cups mesclun
  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the eggplant, 2 of the thyme sprigs, one-fourth of the minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper; season with salt and black pepper. Cook the eggplant over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Scrape the eggplant into a large bowl and discard the thyme sprigs. Repeat with the zucchini, red bell peppers and onion, cooking each vegetable separately in 2 tablespoons of oil with 2 thyme sprigs, one-fourth of the minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the cooked vegetables to the eggplant.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450°. Return all of the vegetables to the skillet. Add the tomatoes, basil and parsley and simmer over moderate heat until the tomatoes are softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. On a large baking sheet, toast the rolls for about 5 minutes, until crusty. In a small bowl, blend the goat cheese with the butter and spread on both halves of the rolls. Spoon the ratatouille onto the rolls and top with the mesclun. Serve right away.
Make Ahead The ratatouille and goat-cheese mixture can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days. Rewarm the ratatouille and let the goat-cheese mixture return to room temperature before finishing the sandwiches.

Suggested Pairing

Sauvignon Blanc is a great match with goat cheese because it has a similar tangy edge—it's great with vegetables, too. Some winemakers in California's Santa Barbara County are experimenting with fermenting a percentage of their Sauvignons in oak to give the wines a bit more depth and lushness.

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