Thursday, August 4, 2011

Oven-Baked Ratatouille

I remember one particular meal when I was living in France. The elderly lady with whom we did our home stay prepared a simple meal of baked fish with a wonderfully flavorful sauce of some kind. I had never tasted it in America and begged her for the recipe. Like many Parisians, my host knew a shortcut or two, and after some coaxing, she revealed the - gasp - jar her sauce had come from. It was nothing more than store-bought ratatouille, which I now know to be a famous Provencal vegetable stew and a great way to use up summer garden produce.

The version I made at home this week in an effort to recreate that moment comes from the popular Chocolate and Zucchini blog, the author of which lives in Montmartre, one of my favorite parts of Paris. It was a great use not only for our homegrown herbs, tomatoes, zucchini and farmer's market eggplant, but a fantastic excuse to use my Le Creuset. We served it over couscous for a light, flavorful dinner.
Ratatouille Confite au Four
- 2 onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 eggplant (if you want to make the traditional ratatouille from Nice, hold the eggplant)
- 1 zucchini
- 2 green peppers
- 8 small tomatoes
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
-1 T. chopped basil
- olive oil
- salt, pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Peel and slice the onion and garlic. Rinse the remaining vegetables, trim and slice them. Rinse the herbs. Combine everything in an oven-proof dish. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil (about two tablespoons). Toss a little more to ensure even coating.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. At this point the vegetables should be cooked but not colored, and there should be cooking juices at the bottom of the pan.
Remove the foil and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes, keeping an eye on the progress, until the cooking juices have evaporated and the vegetables have taken on a nice roasted aspect.
Remove the sprigs of herb, and serve immediately, or at room temperature, or cold. It gets even better the next day and the day after that.

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