With intense vegetable flavours ratatouille tops all other vegetable stews.
Ratatouille is the classic French roasted vegetable stew from the Provence region. The time the vegetables in this dish spend roasting leads to a huge amplification in flavour that makes ratatouille (in my opinion) the most delicious vegetable stew you can make.
It takes a bit of time and a lot of attention to make, but it is so worth the effort. Ensure you use the freshest vegetables you can find (right out of the garden if that's an option) to get the best flavours. When making at different times of the year, include some seasonal vegetables like squash in the autumn and winter.
Being a vegetable stew, this dish is entirely vegan. It's also gluten-free and sugar-free for those with dietary restrictions. Barring allergies, this is one dish that can be eaten by almost anyone.
Ratatouille will actually improve over time as the flavours of the vegetables meld. So, making it a day or two ahead of time is perfect. It will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 4 or 5 days. Just reheat over a medium flame and serve.
(Makes 8 servings)
4 cloves garlic, 2 smashed and 2 minced
2 medium sweet onions, roughly chopped
3 medium zucchini, chopped
1 large eggplant, cubed
1 yellow sweet bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 red sweet bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 orange sweet bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 teaspoons course sea salt, divided
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
3 medium to large heirloom tomatoes, peeled, deseeded, and chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C and line two sheet pans with silicone liners then set aside.
Prepare the garlic, onion, zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers. Set aside the 2 minced cloves of garlic for inclusion later. Spread the vegetables out in a single layer across the two sheet pans with the zucchini and eggplant on one pan and the garlic onions and peppers on the other. Try not to mix the vegetables as they will finish cooking at different times. Divide the rosemary and thyme evenly between the pans. Drizzle the vegetables with a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle with half the salt and distribute the herbes de Provence across both pans. Lightly toss to ensure all the vegetables have an even coating of oil. Place the pans in the oven and roast, agitating the pans every 15 minutes or so until the vegetables are very soft and the edges of them have started to brown. The peppers, zucchini, and eggplant will be ready in about 45 minutes, and the onion and garlic around an hour.
While the vegetables roast, prepare the tomatoes. Set aside a large bowl of ice water. Fill a medium saucepan 3/4 full of water and place over high heat. Bring water to a rolling boil then carefully add the tomatoes. Boil until the skins of the tomatoes split, which should only take about 10 to 15 seconds, then using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes into the ice water. (The pot of boiling water can be discarded.) Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to peel off the skins (they should come off very easily). Place a sieve over a medium mixing bowl then cut the tomatoes across horizontally/equatorially to open up all the seed cavities. Holding the tomatoes over the sieve, use your fingers to pull out the seeds. This should let the juice of the tomatoes collect in the bowl (reserve) and enable you to discard the seeds afterward. Roughly dice the tomatoes and add them to the bowl with the tomato juice. Add the minced garlic to the bowl along with the bay leaves and the remaining salt. Toss then set aside.
In a large casserole dish, add the roasted vegetables and the tomato and garlic mixture. Combine, mixing with the remaining oil and ground black pepper. Cover and bake for about an hour, giving it a stir every 15 minutes or so. Remove from the oven, taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Remove the bay leaves and remaining sprigs then let the ratatouille cool a little before serving and garnish with a sprinkling of parsley (optional).
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
total calories = 221 | total fat = 14.33g | saturated fat = 2g | cholesterol = 0mg | sodium = 249mg | net carbohydrates = 18.17g | dietary fibre = 5.46g | sugars = 11.42g | protein = 3.51g