Vegetable

Bored of the Same-Old, Same-Old Ratatouille? Roast It.

August 31, 2017

Last Friday, while packing up for a weekend away, I spotted a sea of peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes, blanketing my kitchen counter, and a familiar panic set in. We would be gone for four days, returning Tuesday, just in time for another farm share delivery (of peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes)—gah!

Too much of a good thing... Photo by Alexandra Stafford

This overwhelming feeling transpires nearly every Monday this time of year—it’s hard, weekend away or not, to not let vegetables wither in the fridge. Rarely does Monday wrap up as envisioned: with the last green bean being gobbled up by one of the children, the last tomato tossed into the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink chopped salad. Nope. When life gets in the way, the vegetables pile up.

Add to the pan as you chop, sprinkling with salt each time. Photo by Alexandra Stafford

If you subscribe to a CSA or tend a prolific garden, you likely have a handful of fritter, pickle, and preserve recipes to help alleviate this situation. Here’s another one to add to your repertoire: Gena Hamshaw’s roasted ratatouille from Food52 Vegan.

Shop the Story

In the notes, Gena writes: “Traditional ratatouille can be a little high maintenance: It simmers on the stovetop for an hour or longer and often requires adding specific vegetables at specific times.” With roasting, on the other hand, all of the vegetables and seasonings enter the pan at once. With the exception of a quick stir halfway through cooking, the process is hands off—there’s no sautéing, no (vigilant) monitoring, no staggering the entry of the vegetables. When the vegetables release their juices, and when those juices then reduce down into a thick, stewy mix, it’s done.

Ratatouille, done. Photo by Alexandra Stafford

The roasted ratatouille tastes sweet with a subtle bite, thanks to the inclusion of balsamic vinegar, almost like a caponata though more mellow. It's irresistible warm, spread atop toasty, grilled bread, but it also makes, as Gena notes, “an excellent chunky pasta sauce.” Here, I’ve added basil and grated parmesan to the pasta, though it’s flavorful enough without these additions. Break out the pepper grinder, and call dinner (and your vegetable-culling efforts) done.

It's summer's favorite pasta sauce. Photo by Alexandra Stafford

A Few Notes

Use the quantities as a guide: It’s best to use a balance of vegetables, but the roasting process is forgiving. For instance, I’ve made this with and without zucchini; I’ve used a mix of vegetables that leans heavy on the eggplant at times and heavy on the tomatoes at others. I’ve also made nearly a quadruple recipe, so don’t be afraid to load up a roasting pan. The key is to be patient with the roasting. Let the vegetables cook until the liquids reduce, and the mixture becomes thick and stewy.

Use a sturdy pasta. It’s pictured here with shells, but something like gemelli or penne—something more firm—is ideal to balance the soft texture of the ratatouille. Be sure, moreover, to cook the pasta al dente.

You’ll be cutting a lot of vegetables, so organize your work station: Set out a large bowl for all of the trimmings and peels—if you watched Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals in the early 2000’s, you may do this always. Have a bench scraper handy to quickly sweep scraps into the garbage bowl and vegetables into the roasting pan.

Freeze or refrigerate extra ratatouille for other uses: To spread atop grilled bread, to spoon over quinoa or couscous, to tuck into an omelet or serve aside scrambled eggs.

12 Comments

Fresh T. September 1, 2017
You know, this looks nice, but my favorite part was at the end when you said freeze for later use..... I need the reminders sometimes to do this. Unfortunately, the summer veg isn't nearly as prolific or abundant as I'm used to or as I'd like, so a lot of my planning has fallen by the way side..... but every now and then I can get my hands on some good stuff and then I can't get enough. Thanks for the recipe and reminder Ali!
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. September 11, 2017
Me, too! I am terrible about using my freezer, Dana. xoxo
 
Susan August 31, 2017
Perfect timing! I can't claim a well-tended garden, but it's prolific nonetheless and I have a pile of tomatoes ripening in a tray on the kitchen floor, a giant bag of eggplant in the fridge, and between gusts of rain, I spied a large, "pick me now," zucchini peeking out from under water-logged leaves. Dinner. 😊
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. September 1, 2017
Woohoo! Susan, it's so good! I made it before heading out to see friends for a few days, and we ate it all weekend. Hope you are well!! Have a great long weekend.
 
BerryBaby August 31, 2017
I roast tomatoes and then puree them into sauce. So easy! Olive olive a baking sheet, place cut side down. Brush skin side with olive oil, sprinkle sea salt, Italian seasoning (I have a grinder mix but you can use dried basil, oregano, garlic), and a sprinkle of onion powder. 375 for 45 minutes. Let cool, puree, store in glass container, refrigerate, use within 2 days for best freshness.
 
BerryBaby August 31, 2017
Olive oil, not olive olive! 🙃
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. September 1, 2017
oooh, this sounds so good, BerryBaby! We have soooo many tomatoes right now. Perfect.
 
Barb September 11, 2017
I don't use onion powder, I just cut large chunks of onions to add to the mix. I add whole cloves of garlic the last 30 minutes or so, and sneak in a few other veg like zucchini, peppers, even a carrot or two if they need to be used. Puree it all, use some for dinner and freeze the leftovers for later.
 
amandainmd August 31, 2017
I am literally eating an omelette with roasted ratatouille as I type. This is my family's year round go-to for vegetables. The leftovers can be tweaked in every possible way (add some tofu and hoisin for a great lunch!). Swap sad tomatos for carrots come winter. It's all good.
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. September 1, 2017
I love it :) I've been living on this for a week. It really is so good on everything! Can't wait to try it with carrots in a few months.
 
mckenzie August 31, 2017
Weird...I was going to make penne tonight and have a bunch of farmer's market eggplant getting ready to go bad. This is perfect!
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. September 1, 2017
It's perfect for very tired eggplant :)