Ragoût: A French term for a well seasoned stew made of meat, fish, or vegetables.
Ragu: Meaty, slow-cooked tomato sauce, ideal with lasagne, raviloi, and other fresh pasta.
Comes from the french term, Ragoûter: to stimulate the appetite.
Ragout is my idea of the perfect Sunday evening food (or whichever evening precludes your work week), especially when summer’s vegetable bounty calls for the use of tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and fresh herbs, in a simple and delicious way. This recipe, from a ‘vintage’ 1995 Martha Stewart cookbook my mom had lying around, is very easy and requires just one pot, a cutting board and knife. If you want to add a few more peppers, or a little less eggplant to suit your taste, feel free, it is quite versatile and forgiving.
Penne with Summer Vegetable Ragout, from What To Have for Dinner, by Martha Stewart Living (circa 1995)
This recipe is great because it is comforting, without being heavy. The only downside to cooking all the veggies into a stew, is that they lose some of their gorgeous color. Adding some chopped fresh herbs to each serving is a nice way to bring back some of that brightness and give the ragout extra flavor as well.
2 cups diced eggplant (skin on)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup diced yellow squash
1 cup diced zucchini
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 medium fennel bulb, very thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
2 cups thinly sliced red onion
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into small pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into small pieces
1 Tbs fresh thyme
1 Tbs freshly grated orange zest
2 cups seeded, diced ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
10 ounces penne
In a large pot over meidum-high heat, saute the eggplant and rosemary in oil for 5 minutes. Add the squash and zucchini and saute for a few minutes more. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Add fennel, onion, and garlic and saute until soft. Add peppers, reduce heat and cook for 4 minutes (I turned down the heat a little and covered the pot). Mix in thyme and orange zest, then add tomatoes and vinegar, Cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and adjust seasonings with salt and, pepper, vinegar and oil to suit your taste. Cover and keep warm on very low heat.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add penne. Cook until tender (follow package directions). Drain and toss with vegetables, top with fresh herbs.