If you like plant-based meals, here is a veritable vegetable feast! This Ratatouille (adapted from allrecipes.com) is as colorful as its name and so flavorful you might lose sight of its incredible health benefits.
Vegetables - size matters
One thing about planning this dish is vegetable size. Ideally, the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash would all be about the same diameter. But, in the real world, almost impossible. Eggplants are big. I mean, like, watermelon big (Well, not that big, but they do get large).
When I find a small one I feel I’ve totally scored!
Ratatouille is a beautiful vegetarian delight. Combine eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini with red pepper and a light sauce to make a main or side dish.
The most work-intensive step to this dish is cutting the vegetables. Think uniformly thin slices. That’s the goal. The best presentation is having all slices relatively the same thickness and diameter. Since it’s nearly impossible to get equal diameters (as covered above) you are left with two choices: accept the imperfection, or cheat.
By “cheat” I mean dealing with an oversized eggplant (the usual culprit) by cutting the slices in half or less. Just ensure that the curved side faces up when assembling in the pan. Presentation saved!
In addition to the eggplant and squash, I like red pepper in my ratatouille. It provides color and sweetness. I’ve found that it’s easiest to to deal with red pepper after all other slices have been placed in the pan. Red pepper pieces are good fillers. They can be easily wedged in between veggie slices to bridge gaps. They work best as half circles or smaller, not full rounds.
Once the veggies are cut up, it’s time to make the sauce.
Make the sauce
In a small saucepan, heat a teaspoon of olive oil and add some chopped onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes until onion begins to appear translucent. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds, then add tomato paste and broth or water. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Arrange ratatouille vegetables in your pan
The cooking pan I use for this is a 10-inch round Pyrex, but any pan of similar dimensions or capacity will work. Spray the pan with cooking spray or olive oil then pour in the sauce.
Begin adding vegetables by layering eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, and repeat.
Make a design to fit the pan, as appropriate. Wedge pieces of red bell pepper in between the vegetable slices to fill gaps and complete the design. Drizzle or brush the tops of vegetables with olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme. (Turns out, thyme is great for our skin!)
Then, cut a piece of parchment paper to just fit over the vegetables, resting on top but not sealing the sides.
Bake for 45 minutes at 375F.
This ratatouille is delicious served as a main or side dish.
Shown here with spaghetti squash to make a complete veggie fest!
Tip: I like to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese to take this over the top.
- 1 small eggplant (1#)
- 1 yellow squash
- 1 zucchini squash
- 1 red bell pepper
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 small onion chopped
- ¾ cup water or vegetable broth
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 tsp thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Slice eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini into thin rounds – about 1/8 inch thick. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise and then cut into thin slices.
- In a small saucepan, heat a teaspoon of olive oil and add some chopped onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes until onion begins to appear translucent. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds, then add tomato paste and broth or water. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Prepare baking pan by spraying lightly with cooking spray. Add the sauce and spread evenly in the bottom of the pan.
- Arrange slices of eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini to fit the pan in whatever pattern desired. Us the red pepper to insert in between the slices.
- When all vegetables are arranged in the pan, drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season with some salt and pepper and sprinkle thyme leaves over the top.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit over the vegetables. Use the paper to loosely cover the vegetable.
- Bake for 45 minutes at 375F.
- Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.
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