2 Bell Peppers I used sweet red and yellow peppers chopped seeds removed
1 LB Zucchini Sliced in 1/2 inch rounds
2 Pints of Cherry Tomatoes or 2 LB of Plumb tomatoes in season with seeds removed
1 LB Yellow onion chopped
6 Cloves of garlic minced
1/3 Cup of fresh basil
1 Fresh rosemary Sprig
4 Sprigs of fresh Thyme
2 Bay leaves
1/4 Teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of Olive oil and 4 Tablespoons split between sheet pans
1 Tablespoon Sherry Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Ratatouille is a well-known vegetable stew hailing from Provence, a region in France famous for the bounty of its produce. It’s no surprise then that this stew is a celebration of hard-working farmers and the fruits of their labor. It’s common to find eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic, and herbs as the main ingredients in Ratatouille. Ratatouille (pronounced rat-uh-TOO-ee) is a very healthy and low fat summer vegetable stew. It is a great way to use up the abundant roundup of fresh summer vegetables from the garden. The perfection of ratatouille lies in the simplicity of the wholesome and fresh ingredients. It can be enjoyed as a main dish with some good crusty bread or you can enjoy as a side dish with a meat or fish entrée. The taste is all the flavors of summer rolled into one, this classic vegan dish is loved by all.
2. At the time cherry tomatoes was the sweetest in my garden so that is what I used. If you have garden fresh tomatoes that are in season please use them. IF using whole plumb tomatoes remove the seeds and pulp. I am using 2 pints of cherry tomatoes one pint is all red cherry tomatoes the other is heirloom cherry tomatoes for their beautiful colors and sweet taste. I sliced the red cherry tomatoes in half and added salt to start to extract the juices from the tomatoes.
3. The most important tip I can give you is all these vegetables hold a great amount of water that is why we are roasting the vegetables in the oven. Oven roasting will extract the liquid out of the vegetables so you don't have a watery soupy Ratatouille. Start by removing the skin from the eggplant only because I don't like the texture of the skin after it is cooked. Chop the eggplant into small cubes see below picture. Line a baking pan for parchment paper for easy clean up and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto the lined roasting sheet pan. Add the eggplant in 1 layer to the roasting pan. Do not toss in olive oil the eggplant is like a sponge and will soak up every last drop of olive oil. I like to keep the skin on the zucchini, slice in 1/2 inch rounds. Add to it's own baking sheet pan and you can toss this in the oil. Salt all the vegetables in the sheet pans. Place into a 425 Degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes
4. While the Zucchini and Eggplant is roasting in the oven add 1/4 cup of olive oil to a Dutch oven and turn the burner to medium high heat. Add the diced onions, salt, red pepper flakes and the herb bundle of rosemary, thyme and bay leaves and cook them for 8 minutes. Then add the garlic cook for 1 minute then add in the 1 pint of sliced cherry tomatoes that were salted and cook for 6 minutes. The tomatoes will start to break down and release all their juices.
5. After 20 minutes remove the Zucchini from the oven and set aside they should have become caramelized and delicious. Stir the eggplant around and place back into the oven for 10 minutes longer for a total of 30 minutes in the oven for the eggplant. Then take half of the roasted eggplant from the baking sheet and set aside.
6. After 6 minutes of cooking the tomatoes with the onions and herbs push the herb bundle to side of the Dutch oven. Add half of the roasted eggplant to the tomatoes and with your potato masher incorporate all the tomatoes, onions and half of the eggplant into a sauce. This way you can get a little bit of eggplant in every bite.
7. Then add the chopped bells peppers, roasted zucchini, roasted eggplant to the tomato and eggplant sauce and stir together. Stir the herb bundle back into the middle of the vegetables. The heat should be off on the stove top when stirring in the rest of the vegetables. Add the 1 pint of whole heirloom tomatoes directly on top of the vegetables as seen below. The heirloom tomatoes will blister and roast in the oven. Place the Dutch oven with lid off directly into the 400 Degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes until the tomatoes sitting on top blister.
8. After 30 minutes the ratatouille is finished baking in the oven. Stir in 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar and fresh basil from the garden. After plating up the Ratatouille drizzle the vegetables with a great quality extra virgin olive oil. Ratatouille can be served as a main dish or side dish what ever you prefer. I always have to serve this with a crunchy toasted French banquette drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.