Whenever I find myself loaded with tomatoes, peppers, onions, eggplant and summer squash this is what I make. Ratatouille (rat-a-too-ee) is an old classic French vegetable stew that was made popular again a few years back by the Pixar movie of the same name. If you haven’t seen the film, I suggest you do – perhaps tomorrow over a day old dish of this stew.
The theme of the film is that anyone can cook and make delicious food with high quality, yet simple ingredients. That’s awfully similar to the premise of Everyday Chef, isn’t it? Also, the longer the vegetables meld together and break down, the better this dish gets – so I wasn’t joking on trying it the next day. It’s great cold and I often eat it simply on a piece of toasted bread.
I know I’m bringing this to you a bit late in the season and for that I apologize. During the past few weeks much of my time was focused on our Twilight in the Meadow fundraiser, which helps raise money to continue our programs like Everyday Chef. But I saw a ton of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant thriving at the market this past weekend, so it is still very much possible to make. You might be out of luck on the summer squash at this point, but just increase the amount of the other ingredients and use varying colors, or throw in a few others, such as mushrooms or even potato.
I’ve seen ratatouille made many ways. But my favorite is by roasting. I think it’s also the least fussiest method.
Gather your veggies. Peel and slice as needed. I like to do a rough chop and keep everything similar in size. I don’t bother with a fancy presentation. Often you’ll see ratatouille plated with everything sliced paper thin in circles, all the same in size, and arranged perfectly together. But unless you’re trying to impress or are running a restaurant, I don’t think you don’t need to bother. This will still look, and more importantly, taste, good.
Meanwhile, cook down the tomatoes on top of the stove in a little heated oil, garlic and red pepper flakes over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally and throw in some salt to taste. When they’re close to done and at a sauce-like consistency, add in a few splashes of red wine vinegar and the basil.
When the veggies are ready – they should look something like this, maybe a little less charred – toss them together with the tomatoes.
You could eat this all by itself topped with some grated Parmesan. But I love to serve it over polenta. Remember, it gets better the next day and the day after that. Bon Apetit.
- 2 medium eggplants
- 3 medium onions
- 2 bell peppers
- 3 zucchini or summer squash
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tomatoes
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
- 3 sprigs thyme
- olive oil
- red wine vinegar
- Heat oven to 425.
- Peel veggies as needed (especially if your eggplant is not super fresh) and roughly chop into pieces about the same size.
- Place all the veggies but the tomatoes on a baking sheet with 1/2 of the garlic, the thyme leaves, a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt.
- In a medium sized pot heat a couple tablespoons of oil and then add in the remaining garlic and red pepper flakes. Let cook for a minute, then add in the tomatoes and season with salt.
- Allow to cook down over low-medium heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally and being careful not to let the tomatoes splatter.
- When nearly done, add in the red wine vinegar and basil.
- When the veggies are done roasting, toss with the tomatoes and serve. Top with Parmesan if you’d like. Enjoy by itself or over polenta.