Blog Post Written By: Briella Hirsch, UNH Sustainability Fellow
We are creating a spin-off of the classic French dish, Ratatouille. This delicious recipe utilizes all of the late-summer vegetables- eggplant, summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes and bell pepper.
I made this recipe for my family, and they were in awe over the flavors that came from such a simple, vegetarian dish. I paired my Ratatouille with toasted bread, drizzled in olive oil, but it also can be served as a side with protein, or try on top of eggs, its truly egg-cellent! However, you decide to eat it, the Ratatouille gets better as it sits, so make a big batch and enjoy the leftovers over and over again. Make sure to scroll down to the bottom to watch our Youtube video for this recipe.
Reasons to love Ratatouille
- It utilizes all the late-summer veggies
Trying to find use for all your veggies, packed in one? Well, do we have the recipe for you! Fresh vegetables really make this dish, so get your vegetables at your local farm or farmer’s market.
- Its vegan and gluten-free
For all my friends with dietary restrictions, we have your back. Just choose your accompaniments accordingly.
- You don’t need to be a veggie lover to love this meal!
I made this for my entire family, and some were hesitant about the eggplant and summer squash. Needless to say, they changed their minds after one bite.
- Ratatouille is great to refrigerate or freeze
Like wine, ratatouille gets better with time. It arguably tastes even better the next day and reheats beautifully.
Fresh tomatoes are the secret ingredient to making a sweet, fresh sauce for the base of the ratatouille. You can use large heirloom tomatoes or small grape tomatoes. I used a grater to make them into a tomato paste consistency, but you can always use a food processor or cut them into small pieces and smash with a fork.
If you are unable to access fresh tomatoes, you can choose to use canned tomatoes or a premade tomato sauce, but fresh tomatoes are the best!
Prior to sautéing the eggplant, I like to spread the eggplant cubes on a baking sheet and season with salt. This draws the excess moisture out of the eggplant and gives it a softer, more tender texture.
Zucchini and Summer Squash
Both of these
veggies have similar cook times, so I threw both of them into the pan and cooked them together. They add great color and flavor to the recipe, but feel free to use on or the other if you don’t have both.
You can use red, orange or yellow bell pepper, pick your poison!
Yellow onions are ideal for caramelizing, and they make a great base for the tomato sauce.
Sautée all the vegetables with olive oil to get those beautifully caramelized edges. Olive oil is also one of the healthiest foods you can eat for heart health.
Basil and Seasoning
The fresh basil and seasonings, really make this dish come alive. Basil is in season, so make sure to grab a bunch from your local farmers market! The sugar will be added to the tomato base to add a touch of sweetness. The garlic will also be added to the tomato base, and I threw the thyme in at the end and let it marinate with all the ingredients to add some flavor. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Another reason to love this dish; there are so many fun ways to incorporate this into your meals.
- Use it as a main with some toasted bread
- Make as a fresh side and serve with your choice of protein
- Utilize it as leftover and try it on top of eggs (Do it! Its EGG-cellent!)
- Serve it over fresh pasta
- If you’re a cheese lover like me, try it with sprinkled parmesan or melt some mozzarella on top!
- 2 non-stick sauté pans
- One will be utilized for the tomato base and another one will cook the veggies. It’ll be more efficient to let the tomato base cook on low heat while you’re sautéing the veggies.
- Grater or food processor for breaking down the fresh tomatoes
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Stove top
- Two large tomatoes or a half pound of mini cherry tomatoes
- 1 medium eggplant, diced into cubes
- 1 summer squash, diced into cubes
- 1 zucchini, diced into cubes
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 bell pepper, red, yellow or orange
- 3 gloves of garlic, minced
- Handful of fresh basil
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Dice your bell pepper and onion into small cubes. Use a grater, food processor or fork to mash your tomato into o a paste consistency. Add 1 tbsp olive to a pan and sauté onion and bell pepper until caramelized. Add in your crushed tomatoes, garlic and sugar. Cook for 4-5min. Take off the heat and garnish with fresh basil.
- Cut the eggplant, zucchini and summer squash into 1/2-inch cubes. Sauté the eggplant first with 1 tbsp olive oil, for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Put sautéed eggplant aside andcook summer squash and zucchini, with olive oil on the stove top for 6-8 minutes.
- Add sautéed vegetables to tomato sauce and add thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Leave on low heat for 4-5 minutes for flavors to combine. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve.