Apparently all I know about French cuisine comes from Disney movies, so I decided to make a Ratatouille. Besides the fact that it looks like a pretty dish, I figured it would be a good way to make me eat my veggies – and celebrate Bastille Day! I browsed around the internet looking at several different recipes and came up with this concoction.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 zucchini
- 1 small yellow squash
- 4 medium tomatoes
- ½ eggplant or 1 small Japanese eggplant
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Dried oregano and thyme for seasoning
- Salt and pepper for taste
- Mozzarella cheese (or any other cheese that melts)
- Slice up all of your vegetables into slices, about the same thickness so they cook evenly. Thinner cooks faster; thicker cooks more slowly. Try to get vegetables that are about the same size so it’ll make piling them into your container easier. I used a regular eggplant which made it difficult! I did also use frozen yellow squash since I had some, and it was luckily about the same size.
- While you’re prepping all of the vegetables, have your onions cooking. In a medium skillet (I used the same cast iron skillet that I was going to use in the oven later), heat up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add in the onions and let them cook for a minute until they start to soften. Add in half of the garlic, red pepper flakes, and some salt and pepper. Continue cooking and lower the heat if they start to brown too fast.
- Once you’ve finished prepping the vegetables, put the tomato paste into the onion pan. Coat the onions evenly and continue to cook until it becomes fragrant. Remove off heat and put the onions at the bottom of your dish (or just keep it in the skillet if it can go in the oven!). Drizzle with some olive oil.
- Start arranging the vegetables in a pattern. I had them standing upright and had tomatoes as every other slice since I had so many. I also layered the eggplants in the middle, and then continued the vegetable pattern in the center until I filled the skillet.
- Disperse the rest of the garlic on top of the veggies (I used frozen chopped garlic hence my cubes) along with oregano and thyme. I used dried herbs since that was on hand, but I’m sure fresh herbs would taste even better! Also add in a little more salt and pepper for taste and drizzle with olive oil.
- Cover the container with foil and bake at 350 F for forty minutes to an hour. Once the vegetables look tender, take out the dish and switch your oven to broil.
- Sprinkle or layer on your cheese on top of the veggies, and return the dish to the oven to bake until the cheese becomes bubbly and brown.
- Let the dish cool for a few minutes and serve alone or with a complementary dish such as pasta, couscous, a meat dish, or rice.
This dish turned out so well; I was pleasantly surprised! I really think the herbs made all of the difference since I had seen so many dishes with little seasoning besides salt and pepper. While I understand it’s probably to ensure that the vegetables’ flavors shine, I really think the herbs added more oomph. They were nice and tender with the melted cheese adding more flavor as well. Those cooked onions were glorious with the tomato paste and garlic; that alone was already making me drool when cooking. I ate my ratatouille with some plain white rice, and it tasted great. I also drizzled some balsamic vinegar later on some leftovers, and that gave some great tang as well. I even put it in a sandwich too. If I were to make this again, I would definitely get the Japanese eggplant to keep the sizes even, and get fresh squash. While the frozen worked well, I felt like it was a little watery since it was in our freezer for months, lol. This is a really nice dish to eat in the summer when the weather is pleasant enough to have your oven on. 🙂