This dish represents two resolutions of mine. First I decided to try and recreate the recipes of my Bulgarian grandma who past away almost a year ago. The second one, trying to be a flexitarian (eat less than one portion of meat a day), after reading “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan and finding it so representative of my ideas about food. Givetch, which it is just the Balkan version of ratatouille, is just perfect for both. I decided to update it a bit by adding few more veggies that my grandma had not used and also not only cook it, but roasted it as well. It adds much more intense the flavors and it adds a second use for that dish as a wonderful sweet paste for next day sandwich (if you can wait for the next day). Yes there is some chopping to do, but you can use as many veggies you have at home (good cleanup for less fresh veggies). I think my grandma would be proud of the updated version and Mr. Pollan will approve as I try to use the veggies I get in the box from the local farm.
In a big pot put about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and start sautéing the veggies on medium heat, in this order, letting each one to cook for about 3-5 minutes after adding: onion, bell peppers, butternut squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, eggplant, potato.
(I actually cut and drop and this gives the right amount of time for each to cook, maybe except for the butternut squash, which takes longer to peel and cut).
Mince the garlic and the spices and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and sauté for 3 min while mixing to caramelize a bit. Add the diced tomatoes and half a cup to ¾ of water mix and bring to a boil. Taste for salt, but this will cook down a lot so be careful adding too much.
Lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile heat the oven to 400 degrees.
When the cooking is done spread the mixture in lightly greased backing pans in a single layer (the veggies should not be one on top of the other as much as possible but should not be spread out. I needed to medium pans).
Roast for 40 minutes. The Sauces should be almost dried out (but not very dry and burnt) and the veggies very soft but still hold some shape. Should look like a caramelized paste, so if it is too soupy add few more minutes of roasting.
Enjoy this warm with a green salad, or next day at room temperature, but never cold from the fridge. Wonderful for sandwiches for next day lunch (try with goat cheese or ricotta salata).
When I eat it warm I like to smash the potatoes with my fork to make it even more paste like.