Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille

Ratatouille is one of the great Mediterranean dishes, perfuming the kitchen with the essence of Provençal cuisine and all the colours of a glorious Muskoka autumn. Made with diced eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes, this delicious ratatouille is prepared by oven roasting the vegetables on a parchment lined baking sheet, which allows them to retain their own shape, texture and character. Only once the vegetables have been roasted gently in the oven for about an hour, with some lovely fresh herbs, garlic and a little olive oil, are they combined in a large bowl or serving platter, allowing the flavours to finally come together in one big happy marriage. 

The autumn colours of Muskoka

If you like Ratatouille, you'll love my friend Chris's recipe for Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille, and never go back to the traditional mushy stove top method. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of the individual vegetables while keeping their structural integrity — it's also just more aesthetically pleasing, like sunshine on a plate. As with any ratatouille, it tastes even better the next day, so it's an ideal make-ahead dish.

Salud! A glass of wine before dinner.

Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille

Makes 8 servings

1 medium eggplant, cut into cubes (4 cups)
2 medium zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch dice
2 bell peppers, red and yellow, de-seeded and diced

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables evenly over both sheets.

Roast, stirring the vegetables a few times, until the vegetables are slightly collapsed or shriveled, starting to brown, and very tender, about 60-80 minutes. If the vegetables look like they may burn, turn down the heat or pile them closer together. If they look dry, drizzle on a little more olive oil. Using a slotted spatula, spoon all of the vegetables and any juices into a serving bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature.