Vegetable Ratatouille

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You know my goal of eating more veggies? Well, this recipe shows that goal who’s boss! I have been wanting to make ratatouille for a while now and couldn’t wait to try it! It’s loaded of fresh veggies like squash and peppers and is cooked in a tomato sauce so it’s pretty healthy. I’ve kinda taken that healthiness down a couple notches because I added cheese to mine, but that is totally optional. I figured the cheese would help those who are not big veggie fans enjoy the dish a little easier. Good for you, if you don’t need or want the cheese! If you’ve never heard of ratatouille, basically it’s a French dish of thinly sliced vegetables that are stewed in a tomato based sauce. This dish can be served hot or cold, but I think it’s much better hot (especially with that added melted cheese on top). If you’ve seen the Disney Movie, Ratatouille, then you know what I’m talking about when I say this dish is special. It does take a little time. The preparation and slicing of the veggies is what takes the longest and I’m sure this is greatly improved with a good mandolin slicer. Assembly isn’t difficult and the sauce is simple. What is so special about this dish is the arrangement of the vegetables in the dish can be a work of art. The beauty of the vegetables is seen with the layers and layers of different colors. For me, it’s more of a special occasion side dish and one I plan on adding to our Thanksgiving Day menu. Yep – I’m already thinking of my Thanksgiving Day menu! Maybe give this one a trial run and if you like it as much as I did, you can add it to your Thanksgiving Day menu. Forgo the boring green bean casserole or whatever side dish you make just because “it’s tradition” and bring in some new life, color, and a rainbow of good for you veggies into your holiday!

I do not own a mandolin slicer. Instead, I had a Slice O-Matic As Seen on TV type slicer. It worked ok, but toward the end, it’s cheaply made blade apparatus was clogging and jamming and I didn’t want to lose any fingers so I ended up just cutting most of the veggies by hand. My Eggplant and red pepper were way too large to fit in the feeding shoot anyway, so those had to be cut by hand. I guess I will be investing in a mandolin before I make this again! You want to slice the veggies fresh. Especially the eggplant and zucchini because they brown easily when sliced. Here’s another tip, try to buy long, skinny eggplants and peppers. You want to try to get the same circumference width across the board with your veggies. You can change up the veggies to your liking, but I stuck with the traditional Ratatouille veggies of Eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and red pepper. I kept mine vegetarian, but you could also brown up some sausage or even Italian sausage and top the dish with that to add a little protein to the dish and serve it as a main course. Remember when I said in a previous post that eggplant, zucchini and really any type of squash are not veggies I’ve been able to say I enjoy. But I loved them in this dish, just as I did in the Balsamic Steak and Veggies that I posted last week. I wouldn’t lie. If I don’t like something I make, I don’t post about it. I loved this dish. Bring on the veggies! I hope you give this one a try!

Vegetable Ratatouille

Ingredients:

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1 eggplant

1 zucchini

1 yellow squash

1 red bell pepper

1 small – medium onion – diced fine

2 Roma tomatoes – diced fine

2-3 Garlic Cloves – minced

1 14-16 oz can of tomato sauce

1 6 oz can of tomato paste

2 teas Italian Herb blend seasoning (rosemary, oregano, basil)

2 TBS olive oil

1 1/4 teas Kosher Salt

1 teas fresh ground black pepper

A few sprigs of fresh Thyme. Dried works fine too.

Shredded Mozzarella Cheese – optional

Shredded or sliced Provolone cheese – optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium to large bowl, combine the diced onion, tomatoes, and garlic.

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Add in the Italian seasoning, and about 1/2 of the salt and pepper into a bowl to make the sauce. Just stir until combined.

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This does not need to be cooked or warmed since it will bake in the oven.

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Either spray your oven safe baking dish with non stick spray or rub a little olive oil in it.

Wash the veggies, but Do Not peel them. You want the skin color to show. Slice the veggies either with a mandolin or by hand into thin 1/8-1/4 inch slices.

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Pour about 1 1/2 C of sauce into the bottom of your baking dish. Begin on the outside of the dish, arranging the vegetables on their edge so their colorful peel shows and work your way around the edge until you get to the center.  Just keep repeating your pattern of veggies until you are at the center.

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For the peppers, since their circumference was too large, I sliced them so they were actually more of a strip and then gently folded them so that they were more the size of the other veggies.

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Drizzle the top with a little olive oil, remaining salt and pepper and then top with 1/2 C or so of sauce and a the leaves from a few springs of fresh Thyme..

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You may have leftover sauce. Just put this in a freezer safe bag and keep it in the freezer. You will have a good marinara sauce the next time you make pizza or pasta. Just thaw on counter or in fridge. for a few hours.

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Cover lightly with foil to allow steam to vent during baking.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes until the vegetables are tender, but not too mushy.

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Remove from oven and top with cheese if you like, and return to oven uncovered for a few more minutes just until cheese is melted.

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All melted and ready!

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Serve as a side dish, or you could even serve over top of pasta or rice for more of a main course dish. I served it along side my Oven Roasted Chicken and Vegetables.

 

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Enjoy!

 


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