Slow Roasted Ratatouille
At summer’s end, many vegetables come all at once to fruition. At this time it becomes difficult to use all of these magnificent vegetables before they wilt. The solution is to mix and cook them all together. Ratatouille’s origin is in Provence, most notably Nice, in the south of France. The name is derived from the French word ratouiller which means to stir up. It is quite simply a sauté of eggplant (aubergine) with tomatoes, zucchini (courgettes) and sweet pepper.
Classically, each vegetable is sautéed in olive oil and then mixed together. As you can imagine, this can be quite time-consuming. Years ago, I substituted a roasting method for the sautéed method to simplify. What I found was that the dish became more thoroughly congruous and merely melts together in a pleasing manner. I also began to gather all the herbs in my garden that would soon be gone, and add them to this dish. Now that I am moving to a plant-based diet I find it necessary to add some type of protein to make it a complete dish. A poached or fried egg served over the top would be fine for a vegetarian. A sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is also a pleasing garnish. However, to go completely vegan it is best to leave out the egg and cheese, adding only some garbanzo beans for the protein supplement. However, you wish to finish this dish you will find that it soon becomes a go-to recipe that is eaten hot right from the oven. Or make it ahead and on those hot, wilting summer days it can also be enjoyed cold!
Slow Roasted Ratatouille
1 pound eggplant, one-inch dice (about 2 quarts cut up)
2 cups fennel, one-inch batons (about 1 large bulb)
2 cups zucchini, one-inch dice (about 8 ounces)
1 ½ cup red pepper, one-inch dice (about 8 ounces)
1 cup kohlrabi, peeled, one-inch dice (about 8 ounces) optional
1 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup red onion, one-inch dice (about 5 ounces)
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup mixed fresh herbs, chopped (rosemary, sage, mint, tarragon, marjoram and/or basil)
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 can (15.5 ounces) garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed
4 cups tomatoes, one-inch dice (about 1 ½ pounds)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup mixed fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, mint, tarragon, marjoram and/or basil)
1. Preheat oven to 375⁰F.
2. In a fourteen-and-a-half by ten-inch baking dish toss the eggplant with one teaspoon of kosher salt, fennel, zucchini, red pepper, kohlrabi, garlic, onion, black pepper, 2 teaspoons salt and one cup of chopped herbs together with three-fourths cup of olive oil.
3. Place in the oven. After a half an hour turn the vegetables over and mix well. Continue to roast for another half an hour.
4. Mix the garbanzo beans into the roasted vegetables. Top with the tomatoes, sprinkled with the remaining one teaspoon of kosher salt. Place back in the oven and roast for another half an hour until the all the vegetables are thoroughly soft.
5. Remove from the oven. Taste, Think, Transform with additional salt and/or pepper.
6. Drizzle with the remaining one-fourth cup of olive oil. Sprinkle with the one-half cup of fresh herbs. Serve hot or room temperature. If desired top with poached or fried eggs, and/ or grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.