I love all the flavors and vegetable involved in ratatouille (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini and onion) but I often don’t end up liking the dish when I eat out. There is a BIG range of texture issues with ratatouille it seems. Some restaurants barley cook the veggies, they are all too hard and the flavors are separate, not melded together. Others saute the veg for hours until they all blend together into a slimey mess and you can’t tell eggplant from zucchini. I decided to Goldy Locks this dish and make a recipe that was just right.
I diced the eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and onion into similar sized cubes and roasted them in a hot 400 oven. Meanwhile I sauteed the tomatoes and garlic to make a quick tomato sauce. When the vegetables were perfectly roasted, sweet with flavor but not too mushy, I tossed them with the quick tomato sauce and fresh basil. Then I cooled the dish and chilled it over night for maximum flavor! It turned out really well and I converted 2 former ratatouille haters over a game of Risk (sadly I lost the game.)
Drew and I lived off this dish for a whole weekend. We ate it cold for breakfast topped with poached eggs and brought it to a BBQ as a room temperature side dish. We warmed it and topped it with grilled chicken breasts the next night. I dreamt about spooning it onto thick slices of grilled bread rubbed with garlic, but alas it was all gone.
3 fat zucchini, diced into medium sized cubes
1 large eggplant, diced into medium sized cubes
1 large red onion, diced
3 small bell peppers, diced into medium sized cubes
3 springs of fresh thyme, leaves removed from the stems
4 large Roma tomatoes, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
Dash of red chili flakes (optional)
Olive Oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 leaves fresh basil, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and toss the zucchini, eggplant, pepper and onion chucks with lots of olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme leaves. Distribute in an even layer on the two baking sheets. Roast for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are fork tender and lightly browned on the edges. While the vegetables are roasting, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and saute the garlic over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the tomatoes are cooked down into a rustic sauce, add salt, vinegar and a dash of chili flakes. Stir well and continue to cook for 5-10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the roasted vegetables, gently stirring to coat each piece with tomato sauce. Allow the ratatouille to cool to room temperature and then add in the chopped fresh basil and taste for salt and pepper. Serve immediately or let chill overnight for maximum flavor. This dish tastes great warm, room temperature or cold.