I remember the first time I had ratatouille; it was one side of the an amazing meal we had in Denmark.  My entire family was there, and the meal was prepared in the bright sunny kitchen of Angel’s best friend’s host family, by the bright sunny host mom.  This was solstice time in Denmark, and we ate on the patio.  It was also the peak of produce season there, and I remember marveling at the gorgeous veg from the market and admiring the time and effort our host took in preparing them.  The potatoes: tiny and each one was peeled.  The ratatouille: each vegetable was at first deep fried separately then drained on paper towel, starting with eggplant though zucchini and pepper, then the whole thing was stewed with the tomatoes until we ate hours later.  This was slow food, but as the sun didn’t set until around 2am, we had time to linger over drinks while the dads hung out around the grill.

Since that day, ratatouille has been on my rotation.  At the time, I was horrified at the amount of oil that went into deep frying everything, especially the eggplant, which drinks it up like a sponge.  I modified and did more of a stew served over polenta, mostly satisfied with the results, but never living up to the deep flavors of that first time.  Even if the eggplant is salted and drained, it’s sometimes hard to get rid of that bitter tone, which seeps into the sauce.  Then I realized my favorite eggplant is either fried (as in chinese cooking, or parmesan) or roasted (mmmmm).  The slightly charred and caramelized effects of roasting work well with the other ratatat ingredients as well, and this version adds a whole lot of flavor from the roasted garlic.  I took a hint from the Danish mom and separate the veg on a big tray so you can remove them as they cook.  Quantities will vary, depending on what was fertilizing your garden.  If you don’t want to turn on the oven in the middle of July, I can imagine doing this on the grill would be equally lovely.

Roasted Ratatouille

  • 1 large eggplant, in 1″ cubes
  • 1 large zucchini, in 1″ cubes
  • 2 yellow (or red) bell peppers, in 1″ squares
  • 1.5 lbs cherry tomatoes
  • 2 red onions, unpeeled, in wedges
  • 1/2 bulb garlic, unpeeled, in cloves
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • handful fresh basil leaves
  • splash red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp capers (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.  Line at two trays with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, toss eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper; spread onto a section of the tray.  Repeat with the zucchini and peppers.  On your second tray, spread the cherry tomatoes, rolled around in whatever oil is left in your bowl.  Drop the onions and garlic in among the tomatoes.
  3. Roast 20-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and removing veg to the oil bowl when they are cooked.  When the tomatoes and garlic are done, keep them separate.  Smash the tomatoes and squeeze in the roasted garlic paste.  Add capers, vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Mix tomato dressing over the roasted vegetables.  Fold in basil.  Serve warm, room temp or cold.  I served it next to some vermicelli aglio olio for a pre-race meal for Tim. Yum!
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