This time of year, when the peppers, squash, eggplant, and tomatoes are staging their grand finale, and we feel like we have more than we can deal with, the urge to mix them all together is strong. Thoughts often turn to ratatouille. A humble peasant stew of these late summer treasures, combined with French herbs, was born from this overabundance. Sauté, roast, or grill the vegetables. Chop them coarse or fancy, or layer them in a baking dish by color, and ratatouille is all about the color! Hot or cold, main dish or side, you can make this a hundred different ways and not go wrong.
Let’s call it a sauce
This week, I decide to serve mine over pasta, and I roasted the vegetables first. Sometimes I grill the veggies, but it was raining again. Sometimes I bake the whole thing in a casserole dish, and I’ve also sautéed everything on the stove top with equal deliciousness and ease. You really can’t go wrong, so always have fun with it. This is a stress-free dish that always tastes delicious.
Serve it your way
You can eat this as a traditional thick stew, serve this over rice, even polenta or mashed potatoes. It’s fun to pay attention to all the colors, use vibrant sweet peppers, yellow and green squash, a variety of tomatoes. It doesn’t really matter about the proportions, just use what you have! This is how I made it this week, but it will be different next. And, if you happen to have some beautiful red lentil pasta to serve it on, even better. Did I say how good it is on spaghetti? Or grits?
Add a fun pasta
The red lentil pasta I chose was a penne, and had just two ingredients: red lentil flour and water, plus it is gluten, dairy, and nut free, important with my brood. I left out the traditional eggplant because I’m allergic to it, as are my son-in-law and niece. Broke my heart, because right now the eggplant of all sizes and shapes and colors look really beautiful. If you can eat them, please add them to the recipe! I’ll just drool from afar.
Add what you like to the platter
I served this with some left-over sautéed baby pak choy, and some sautéed mushrooms saved from breakfast omelets. They hit just the right note. Steamed green beans would be great too. One meal around here always seems to bump into the next!
This dish keeps nicely, and if you make a big batch, you’ll be nibbling for days, or stock your freezer. I even like this in a wrap, or as a base for baked eggs, see below. You’ll come up with your own uses, whether a main course or even a sauce over fish or tofu. More meals bumping into each other!
I know it could be just moments when we will go from too much to not enough of the summer veggies, so let’s enjoy them while we can!
Roasted Ratatouille over Red Lentil Pasta
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced into rings
I head garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
1 sweet red pepper, sliced
1 sweet green pepper, sliced
1 medium to large yellow summer squash, sliced
1 medium to large zucchini, sliced
4 medium to large meaty, ripe tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. herbes de Provence
½ tsp. lavender flowers, crushed
1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
8 to 10 oz. pasta of choice
Parmesan cheese, shaved, or goat cheese, crumbled, optional
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Brush two baking trays liberally with olive oil. Place veggies in a single layer on each, grouping them together. Mix together the herbes de Provence, lavender flowers, and fennel seeds with a few tablespoons of the oil. Brush over the vegetables, and season with salt and pepper.
Roast for 20 minutes and check. They will need to be turned and the garlic will probably need to be removed. If any of the other vegetables look done, take them out, the tomatoes will soften quickly. I place them right on the cutting board and chop into desired size, then put them in a large bowl. Don’t forget the juices! If the garlic is ready, just squeeze each clove onto the board and give a little mash.
Put your pasta water on to boil, add salt, and drop the pasta when it is ready. Once everything is cooked and married, add the fresh basil, mix it well, and taste for salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta, place on a large platter, and top with the ratatouille. Finish with more fresh basil and some Parmesan curls or goat cheese crumbles if you like.