Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oven Roasted Ratatouille

So, this is one of those recipes that I have NO idea exactly where I found it... I know I had found it online somewhere, and had just happened to stumble across it while looking for something else, but I don't remember exactly where it was.
In any case, I was intrigued by the recipe and typed it up into a Microsoft Word document and then saved it onto my "Cookbook" flash drive. (Yes, I am THAT kind of fruitcake! All of the recipes I find and like or am intrigued by, I type into a Word document and save onto this little flash drive which I titled "Cookbook". I have the folders - 25, to be exact - and subfolders on this flash drive set up so that I can easily access it and find whatever I might want, from beverages to vegetables. I even have a Twilight-Themed Party folder, which includes recipes for a party I am helping to plan with some friends for when the next movie in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn, comes out in theaters! And, yes, the recipes I test for that will appear on my blog. :-) )

So, anyways, back to the ratatouille!

I had never had the stuff before, but I was more than willing to give it a try... Especially when it included one of my favorite herbs - basil! Not to mention, it is loaded with vegetables, making it extra healthy. Basically, all ratatouille recipes are made up entirely of vegetables which are cooked or roasted in some way, shape, or form. I've come across recipes for ratatouille previously which consisted of a number of ways to prepare the dish, including grilling and cooking on the stove top, but they didn't really grab my attention because they were essentially just recipes of a bunch of cooked vegetables thrown together in a dish and served. Now, c'mon, that's not really a recipe! Well, not in my opinion anyways...
Then, I found this recipe! Every time I make this dish, it turns out delicious; and I'm not one for exact measurements when cooking, so it turns out a little bit different every time. The best thing about ratatouille is that it's so versatile - you can eat a whole plate of it with some crusty French bread as a meal in itself, you can serve it as a side dish, and even use it in sandwiches. And while you CAN prepare this and freeze it for later, I would suggest that you only use the thawed stuff in sandwiches because all of the vegetables tend to get really soft when thawed out and heated up.

1 pan of already roasted ratatouille next to one waiting to be roasted.

The completely finished product!

1 medium Italian eggplant or several Asian
2 lb. ripe Roma tomatoes
¼ c. red wine
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 medium green or yellow zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 large red onion
6 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. coriander seeds, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the eggplant into 2½ - 3 cm. chunks and put all of them into a colander. Salt well, if necessary, and then place several paper towels on top of the vegetable. Place the colander in a sink basin or in a bowl and then put a weight on top of the vegetable to draw out the bitter juices and let sit for about 30 minutes. (This step of salting is really only necessary sometimes for the Italian eggplants.)
Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the pulp and seeds before cutting them into chunks. Put the chunks into a bowl, add salt, pepper and then the wine and vinegar. Let the tomatoes macerate as you set the oven temp to 450°, then go about chopping the zucchini and bell peppers into 2½ - 3 cm. pieces and cut the onions into wedges.
In one or more roasting pans (for this quantity, two 9 x 13 pans will work splendidly - and I used disposable pans so that I wouldn't have to scrub my good pans afterwards) coat the insides with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Take the weight off the eggplant, discard the bitter water, rinse, and tumble the vegetable into the pans, then follow with the tomatoes (juices and all) and the rest of the vegetables and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, and then sprinkle the spices on top and mix all the vegetables together by hand. I usually add another restrained glug of olive oil on top prior to popping the tins into the oven. Bake for an hour or until the veggies are tender and their edges are slightly singed.


  1. Drinking the rest of the red wine while preparing the meal makes it even more fun! (After all, you're only using 1/4 cup in the recipe...)

    I have to stop reading recipes and food blogs before bed - I think I need a snack now.

    Question - have you ever tried to bake thawed ratatouille? Just curious, as I've never baked veggies that were previously baked, frozen, and then thawed. I don't NEED to know, but you made a point to mention that thawed ratatouille should only be used in sandwiches, since it can be soggy. Let me know if you ever give it a shot!

  2. Hee hee! That's a good thought, about drinking the rest of the wine while preparing the meal!! However, I used a Malbec, which is really very earthy and woodsy, which I think is what makes it such a good candidate for this particular dish... Malbec is generally aged in oak barrels before being bottled and shipped off to the markets, so some of that oak flavor is brought into the wine, not to mention they are also usually a little bit more dry. Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing, not by any means! But I am not necessarily a fan of drinking dry wines... I really enjoy cooking with them, and I love the flavors that they help bring out in a dish, but I would rather be drinking a yummy bottle of Moscato D'Asti! :-D With that being said, I think the Malbec was really a good choice for this dish, and the woodsy flavors really complemented the vegetables well.

    As for baking the thawed ratatouille... No, I've not tried that. I will have to give that a try next time, but, if I remember correctly, I think the vegetables were already fairly soft and soggy before reheating them. It was just kind of all mushed together... So, I preferred to eat it as a sandwich! But, I think it would also be tasty if you wanted to serve it over some pasta... Maybe some angel hair would work well. I'll have to try that next time too! :-)