I love recipes that use the bounty of the garden in a single dish and ratatouille accomplishes that in a very delicious way. In case you didn’t know, ratatouille (rat-uh–too-ee), is a summer vegetable stew that had it’s origins in the Provencal city of Nice in southern France. Traditionally, each ingredient, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion, garlic and tomatoes, is cooked separately on the stove top and tossed together at the very end. So it’s really a sauté that is presented as a stew.
In this version the vegetables are tossed in olive oil and roasted in the oven, eliminating the time cooking over a hot stove. Our red and yellow bell pepper harvest is the earliest I can remember. They must like the hot temperatures and abundant rainfall this year. The orange Valencia peppers are not far behind. I prefer using Chinese or Japanese eggplants for their thin skin and milder flavor. I substituted shallots for onions since our harvest was so plentiful this year. The garlic was also from the garden, a first for us.
Cut the vegetables in similar size so they will get done at the same time. The smaller the cut, the less time it will take to cook. Lightly toss the vegetables with about a half cup of a good quality olive oil. Spread them out evenly over two large baking sheets. Rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back half way through the cooking time. Roasting allows the vegetables to retain their shape and they take on a delicious toasted flavor. Move the cooked vegetables to a large serving bowl and tossed with a basil chiffonade. Chiffonade, translates “made of rags” from the French (of course!). It is a technique for cutting herbs and vegetables into long thin strips, in this case, basil.
Ratatouille can be used in many ways, a side dish, a topping for bruschetta, chicken or fish. We used it as the topping for an impromptu flatbread pizza. It can be served hot or cold and is even better the next day, if it lasts that long.
Oven Roasted Ratatouille
Serves four (or two very generously)
- 2 small onions (about 5 oz. each), cut into ¼-inch-thick half-moons
- 2 bell peppers, red, yellow or orange, cored, seeded and cut into ¼-inch lengthwise strips
- Japanese eggplant, about 1 lb, cut crosswise ½ inch thick rounds, then sliced in quarters
- 1 lb small to medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into ½ inch thick rounds
- 10 whole cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ c extra virgin olive oil, and more as needed
- 1 t chopped fresh rosemary
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1½ lbs medium tomatoes (about 4), cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- ¼ c basil cut into a chiffonade
- Place racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Heat to 400°F. If using convection heat, 375°F.
- In a large bowl, toss the onions, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, and 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt and a grind of pepper. Spread the vegetables evenly over two large 12 x 16 sheet pans. Don’t spread the vegetables too thin or they may burn (they shrink a lot as they cook).
- Roast, stirring the vegetables a few times and swapping the positions of the pans once, until the vegetables are slightly collapsed or shriveled, starting to brown, and very tender, about 35 minutes for my oven. It could take 10 minutes longer if you are not using convection heat.
- Scrape all the vegetables and any juices into a serving bowl. Toss with the basil, taste for seasoning, and serve.