Roasted ratatouille

Roasted ratatouille

When it comes to the classic Provençal vegetable dish ratatouille, I prefer it roasted not stirred. What I mean is I’d rather eat ratatouille that’s been cooked in the oven where the vegetables are left alone to slowly roast in their own juices, than ratatouille that’s been made on the stove-top where the vegetables are often overcooked and stirred to a mush.

Until quite recently Ric and I had only ever made ratatouille on the stove-top. The results had always been very palatable, but not what I would describe as overwhelmingly good. I’d always put this down to the fact that we weren’t cooking each vegetable separately — a method that some recipes recommend to preserve the integrity of each vegetable. But we’d never had the time or inclination to test that theory.

Being a big fan of oven-roasted dishes, and armed with a glut of eggplants, tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers and onions, we were inspired to create this roasted ratatouille. Unhampered by excessive stirring, the vegetables develop a deliciously sweet roasted flavor and wonderful texture that rise above any stove-top ratatouille I’ve ever tasted.

Since this roasted ratatouille revelation, it’s become one of our favorite ‘set and forget’ oven-baked dishes and has revolutionized our culinary repertoire with its sheer versatility. Just as good hot, warm or cold, the ratatouille can be prepared ahead and kept covered in the fridge until you’re ready to roast. And once cooked, any leftovers (unlikely) taste even better over the next day or two.

To date we’ve served roasted ratatouille: tossed with pasta and white beans; nestled in a baguette with brie (heaven!); served on the side of grilled tuna; mixed with couscous and chickpeas; used as a pizza topping with anchovies and olives; and stirred through a shrimp risotto.

Roasted ratatouille
Serves 4
Zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes and onion coated in a Provençal herb and olive oil dressing and roasted until sweet and tender.
14 oz (400g) canned chopped tomatoes
2 garlic cloves — minced
1½ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon superfine (caster) sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon dried thyme
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion — thinly sliced and separated into rings
2 red peppers — cut into strips
1 green pepper — cut into strips
2 zucchini — cut into half-inch rounds
1 eggplant — cut into 1-inch cubes
PREHEAT oven to 400°F/200°C. MIX together the canned tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, parsley and thyme until combined. OIL a baking dish with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. START by layering a quarter of the sliced onion in the bottom of the baking dish then top with a quarter each of red and green peppers, zucchini and eggplant. SPOON a quarter of the tomato mixture and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each layer. REPEAT the process to make 4 layers. COVER and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake for a further 30 minutes. REMOVE from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes, then stir the roasted vegetables together before serving.

Serving ideas: We’ve served roasted ratatouille tossed with pasta and cannellini beans, nestled in a baguette with brie (heaven!), served on the side of grilled tuna, mixed with couscous and chickpeas, used as a pizza topping with anchovies and olives, and stirred through a shrimp risotto.