August 21st, 2011

Roasted Rat-a-tat Stack

DSC_0011

Aubergines. Courgettes.

Don’t the French words for eggplants and zucchinis seem more evocative of the summer bounty?

I can imagine kitchen counters throughout homes in Provence strewn with these oblong purple and dark green beauties, along with other ripe jewels from the sun-drenched garden: plum tomatoes and sweet red peppers. I can imagine cooks ducking into the cool of these kitchens to examine the pick-of-the-day, formulating a plan for a good meal. And, I feel certain that each takes pride in her own recipe for that traditional Provencal dish, ratatouille.

At its core, the vegetables remain constant: eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, onion. Garlic, the Provencal mainstay, goes without saying. Cooking techniques and seasonings vary widely.

How the vegetables are cut makes a difference: small dice, or thin slices, sauteed in a stewpot in stages or simply tossed together with abandon and simmered for hours.

The spicing tells a story, too. High in the rugged countryside, the floral notes of lavender would find their way into the dish. There could be Italian border crossings that introduce basil. Along the Mediterranean coast, Greek influences might prevail. Some swear by a pinch of cinnamon, others season with a little anise. And, don’t forget a fleck of hot red pepper flakes for fiery bite.

DSC_0015

Like the Provencal cooks I’ve conjured, I’ve prepared ratatouille many many ways–always seeking another variation when the market baskets brim with these veggies. Over the years, my roasted “rat-a-tat stack” has become my go-to. It’s the caramelization that occurs in the oven-roast that makes it so appealing. I like the layered aspect; each vegetable maintains its integrity, yet melds in the final bake.

DSC_0001

We also eat with our eyes, and this assembly provides a visual feast. The line-up of ingredients on sheet pans, ready-to-roast, is a modern art mosaic.

DSC_0004

Post roasting, they make a pretty mandala of color arranged in the cast iron skillet.

DSC_0005

If you’d like to depart from tradition, you could spread ricotta between some of the layers, or sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese. This would serve to really solidify the stack. But I like the deep candied vegetal flavors, unencumbered by the richness of dairy. The caramel-like juices come together in the final bake, tout ensemble.

Enjoy with some crusty bread. Thank you aubergines, courgettes, good cooks of Provence. We relish your ratatouille straight out of the hot skillet for supper, or scarcely warmed the next day at lunch. Santé!

DSC_0008

ROASTED RATATOUILLE STACK
2 Eggplants (medium large)
2 Zucchinis (medium large)
4 Tomatoes (try 2 yellow and 2 red, with a smatter of roma and cherry tomatoes)
1 large Onion
2 Red Bell Peppers
4 cloves Garlic
Olive Oil
Salt
Black Pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Fresh Basil—a few sprigs

3 Baking sheet pans

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Slice eggplants lengthwise, about 1/4″ thick, and layout on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Slice zucchinis in similar fashion, and layout on a separate (lightly oiled) sheet pan. Brush and season.

On the third sheet pan, place the cored tomatoes, cut in half, along with the onion, garlic, and seeded red bell pepper halves.

Roast the vegetables until : (15-20 minutes)
edges of the eggplants and zucchinis are browned
skins of the tomatoes and peppers are blistered

Remove the skins of the tomatoes, peppers, garlic. Coarsely chop 2 of the roasted tomato halves with the garlic. Season with some red pepper flakes, if you like.
Brush the bottom of a casserole dish or cast iron skillet with olive oil, and layer the roasted vegetables in this order:
Chopped tomatoes w/ garlic
Sliced Eggplants
Sliced Zucchinis
Onions
Basil leaves
Red Peppers

Repeat the layering. If using the cast-iron skillet (or round casserole dish) Lay the pieces in circular mandala-like design.

Bake in 325 degree oven for 20 minutes to “anneal” the layers, deepen the rich flavors.

DSC_0013

DSC_0017

Posted in Casseroles, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian Dishes

30 Responses to “Roasted Rat-a-tat Stack”
  1. Karen Says:

    Superb, Nancy! I love how you described the flavors of Provence, laced with other Mediterranean aromas. Makes me want to escape down south… Your beautiful dish sounds even better than ratatouille, with the caramelized veggies, not to mention that it looks stunning. Summer in a skillet! :-)

  2. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    That simply could not look and sound any better. It is like heaven to this roasted veggie junkie and I can not wait to make it. The seasoning and the flavors are just calling my name! Wow, totally impressed

  3. Tracy Says:

    I saw myself contemplating. A breeze coming through the kitchen. The quiet sound of summer. Cool tiles beneath my feet. I have a feeling this would taste most amazing at room temperature. My mind is taking me through the motion of slicing off a piece, tasting that sweet candied caramelization.

  4. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    An inspired method, a stunning presentation; and you’re right, “ratatouille” is such a more elegant word than “vegetable stew.”

  5. goodfoodmatters Says:

    KB and Michele—Thank you!

    Karen–you know those Mediterranean flavors well, having just been to Sicily. I love your caponata.

    Tracy–girl, you are in the flow.

  6. Fluffy Says:

    reading this reminded me of a summer visit to Avignon….

  7. Faith Says:

    This is a truly lovely dish, really epitomizing summer! Your idea of adding a layer of ricotta is brilliant!

  8. kankana Says:

    such a quick and easy recipe and it looks so fancy too!

  9. Three-Cookies Says:

    This looks absolutely divine. I love ratatouille and never knew it could be prepared this way

  10. Nic@diningwithastud Says:

    YUM! This would be perfect with some feta crumbled on top and a big fat juicy steak :) lol

  11. Beth Says:

    You write about food so beautifully. What a great post!

  12. Teresa/foodonfifth.com Says:

    Nance, this is so great looking. It is a far cry from the Rat-tat-tats I have had for so many years….I like this new approach..not so much little chopping and dicing…nice big slices turned into the best way to eat eggplants & squash…a modern twist on an old favorite.

  13. Barefeet In The Kitchen Says:

    All of those vegetables sound delicious!

  14. FOODESSA Says:

    Now why is it that such a fabulous roasted vegetable meal is nowhere to be found when I’m at restaurants who should clearly be showcasing such deliciousness?!?
    I crave this rustic simplicity over the fancy (mostly empty)fare I’m getting fed up of witnessing everytime I’m out at most eateries.
    With a crusty baguette by my side…I’m ready to dig in. Knock, knock. Bonjour, c’est moi. LOL

    Nancy, I couldn’t help but look around your past posts and sneak a peek at what I missed. If you don’t mind…I snatched your recipe for basil aioli and of course those squash souffles will certainly get a tasting sometime soon ;O)

    I truly loved meandering through your summertime cooking…always so colorful and appetizing.

    Ciao for now and flavourful wishes,
    Claudia

  15. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Claudia–bienvenue! entrez chez moi! nice to see you back on the blogs.
    enjoy the basil aioli recipe, too!

  16. Wendy Says:

    I love this—great way to use some of my 10 pounds of tomatoes—

  17. blackbookkitchendiaries Says:

    what a stunning looking dish! i really love all those pretty summer colors! thank you for sharing this.

  18. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Gorgeous! I made something similar recently, without eggplant, and I did add thin layers of ricotta and a little parmigiano-reggiano. It was delicious, but I want to make it again, your way.

  19. Tammy Says:

    Gosh, this is just gorgeous! I love your statement about leaving the dairy out but I’d be inclined to put it next to a bit of panko crusted goat cheese.

  20. Angie@Angiesrecipes Says:

    Summer in a skillet! Pretty and colourful.

  21. Von Says:

    Your ratatouille looks beautiful! I love the colours :) Beautiful to look at and delicious to eat- double win!! :D

  22. Juliana Says:

    Nancy, I love roasted vegetables, and this layers of different veggies look so delicious not only for the taste buds but for the eyes as well.
    Hope you have a fantastic week ahead :-)

  23. Keely Says:

    That last photo really got my tastebuds going! I totally agree with you that oven-roasting gives a beautiful flavour and texture. Although I probably would be naughty and add a little cheese ..

  24. Stephen Says:

    This looks so good. Roasting is definitely the way to go with these vegetables and yes the french words do conjure a wonderful vision of tasty food. Great presentation and something I need to try soon.

  25. Maria Says:

    OK. I’m coming back for this recipe and many others. I love, love, love aubergines and courgettes.

  26. Maria Says:

    I made this last night! IT’S SOOO DELICIOUS. Mine didn’t look as beautiful as your pictures, but practice makes perfect. It reminds me of a dish my mom used to make which included a white fish — can’t remember which one. So, so good. Thanks for sharing.

  27. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Maria! Thanks for letting me know–I’m thrilled that you had such success. I really like you site, too. I’m looking forward to exploring it some more.

  28. Maria Says:

    Oh,thank you so much! I’m making such wonderful discoveries in the world of blogging — that includes your site and delicious recipes.

  29. Brandi Says:

    Cheers pal. I do appreciate the writing.

  30. Yuan Says:

    This one looks so good. The color, the presentation, the temptation. Haven’t check out your site for a while. It looked like you have posted a lot new recipes.Thanks for sharing and excellent job!



Comment on This Post: