Yesterday, my mom and I decided to use the fruits of our (mostly her) garden labours for dinner. We planted cute mini eggplants a while ago and they were ready for harvest, along with our grape tomatoes. With these veggie/fruits in mind, I thought of a dish I’d been hoping to try for a long, long time: Ratatouille! Our grape tomatoes weren’t ideal to use in the ratatouille though, so we ended up just buying the other ingredients… and I used our home-grown tomates as charming decorations 🙂
Full disclaimer: I am no ratatouille aficionado. In fact, the only time I remember eating it was as a cold side dish on the beach in Nice (the star of lunch that day was an amazing Niçoise Pan Bagnat). Also, this is the first time I made this, and I’m only sharing because I actually liked the outcome. I don’t like things that are soaked in sauce, and I like a bit of texture in my veggies. I definitely don’t think this is the traditional ratatouille (if anything, I was going for a Disney/Pixar-esque Ratatouille lol). You might think of it as an easy, sliced, drier version of a traditional one.
Now, with those disclaimers aside, I’d like to share my easy ratatouille recipe with you. The hardest part about this slicing and arranging the veggies. I wanted to slice my veggies with a knife so I’d get a thicker slice, but if you use a mandolin, your life will be easier. Also, if you don’t care so much about the presentation, the recipe will go quicker. If you’d rather chop into bite size pieces, mix and toss them in, do that! 😀
Serves 2-3 as a main dish, accompanied with Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend (cous cous + grains).
- 4 Roma tomatoes (or probably any kind of tomatoes)
- 1 Red onion
- 1 Zucchini (try to get one that’s even shaped and not too fat, if you’re trying to assemble a uniform pattern. Sadly, my choices were limited at Trader Joe’s today)
- 6-7 mini eggplants (probably 2 medium Japanese eggplants – the thinner ones)
- 6 mini sweet peppers (probably one large bell pepper – but then you wouldn’t get the variety of colors)
- 3 fat cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp of olive oil (or, as needed)
- 1/3 cup of chicken stock/broth (or any other stock of your choosing. Use less or more, depending on how much liquid you’d like)
- 1.5 tbsp Soy Sauce (or, as you see fit)
- Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper flakes, Herbs (try oregano, basil, parsely, a bit of thyme? I completely forgot to add anything except chives and it was still fine. I also used Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Seasonings salt which had a bit of herbs in it already.)
Prep/Slice your eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini and onions. Chop tomatoes (I sliced them, but there was no need for me to do so). Smash + finely chop garlic cloves.
In a pan (med-high heat), put a little less than a tablespoon of olive oil. Sautée minced garlic + about a third of the sliced onions. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Once the onions start to sweat a little (a couple minutes) and give off those yummy aromas, add all of your chopped tomatoes. Sautée for a couple minutes until the tomatoes start getting slightly softer/wrinklier. If the mixture is sticking/burning to your pan, add a bit of chicken stock or oil (or even water). Turn off heat.
Oil your oven-safe baking dish (important step, that I forgot until I started arranging my veggie slices). Transfer your tomato/onion mixture into the bottom of your baking dish. Spread evenly.
Preheat oven to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now you’re ready for the fun (or tedious) part! Alternate your zucchini, onion, eggplant and peppers as you wish. Once you’ve arranged it all, drizzle olive oil over it all (I also ended up spraying it with some Trader Joe Pam). Drizzle soy sauce (I’m not sure if the measurements are exact. I just drizzled a thin stream over each row of veggies.) Sprinkle with pepper flakes, salt and herbs.
Note: Feel free to just toss it all together without arranging them in any particular fashion – just make sure that the veggies are mixed together enough that each section has a variety. You could even chop them in chunks (more traditional). Also, if you want more moisture/softer veggies, you might want to place the tomato/onion mixture over the veggies and not under.
Pop your beautiful tray into the oven for about 45 – 60 minutes. Periodically check the softness of your ratatouille and see if it needs anything. For example, I ended up adding some more chicken stock about halfway through because it looked too dry.
10-15 minutes before you think it’s done, prepare your pasta/cous cous (or whatever you’re eating it with).