Believe it or not summer isn’t my favorite time of year, I’m more of an Autumn/early winter and not for all that pumpkin spiced nonsense either! I just love the chill in the air and the turning of the leaves. I love the way the leaves crunch under my feet as I walk down the street.
But summer isn’t without its benefits either. You eat less, you wear less and spend more time outdoors. And the bounty of vegetables that are available are simply amazing. And that always gives way to good eats! As I sit here listening to Nirvana and wondering what exactly does teen spirit smell like, I’m using my trusty mandoline to slice up a ton of fresh veggies in preparation for this week’s kitchen experiments. I cook all the time and often notice out of convenience I tend to make the same things. I decided now was a great time as any to make a ratatouille. I’ve never had one before and recall hearing about it or taking an interest in the dish until I saw the Disney movie bearing the same name.
The dish is very rustic and includes a few simple ingredients, technically it’s a stew but I don’t like wet veggies so I baked mines in the oven. I also did a quick sauté of all the veggies prior to assembling to put in the oven. This also helps to get rid of excess moisture. Because again…I don’t like soggy, wet vegetables.
To up the ante I covered the bottom of my dish with a garlic wine based sauce and then carefully assembled the vegetables in some semblance of a pattern to make it look pretty, popped it in the oven and then waited for the magic to happen. I served it up with crusty French bread with a schmear of mascarpone cheese.
The hardest thing to do was assembling the veg but the payoff was perfect! Pretty to look at and delicious to eat!
1 medium sized zucchini (courgette)
1 medium sized eggplant (aubergine)
1 medium yellow squash
1 onion diced (I prefer Vidalia, you can use whatever you like)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 bell pepper, yellow -sliced into strips
½ cup water or broth
2-3 cloves garlic minced
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees*
- Use a mandoline or knife to slice vegetables thinly (after slicing vegetables I sprinkled a tiny bit of salt on them to pull the moisture out, and let them drain on paper towels)
- In a saucepan add ¼ cup of olive oil on medium heat, mince garlic and add to pan, be careful not to let it burn, once the garlic becomes fragrant in the pan add the crushed tomatoes, add the ½ of broth (or water) and reduce to simmer, season with salt and pepper.
- In another pan on medium heat add 1tablespoon of olive oil, throw in diced onions and saute until transparent, season with salt and pepper sparingly.
- Heat a medium sized skillet/frying pan on medium heat. Once the pan is hot, arrange a layer of veggies and allow to brown lightly *this step isn’t necessary, I do it because it takes out even more moisture and i like my veggies with a bit of bite. Repeat this step until all the vegetables have been sauteed and allowed to cool.
- Now it’s time to assemble. First we start with our tomato garlic mixture.We cover the bottom of our baking dish with the sauce first.
6. Next we add a layer of sauteed onions.
7. Then bring on the veg. You can layer or assemble any way you please, I like to alternate between veggies. And you can use any pattern your heart desires.
8. Garnish with a pepper slices.Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove and serve.