Is it a stew? A soup? A sauce? A filling?
Hot, warm, cold, it is breakfast, lunch, or supper as well!
This is a family favorite, and one of the most versatile dishes to make when the bounty of the summer garden can easily become a burden! Chop, sauté, roast, or grill, and an amazing amount of vegetables can be saved for the rest of the year with little time.
While the vegetables for this peasant dish are usually sautéed, my own spin on this classic was to roast most of the vegetables first to bring out even more flavor. It really makes a difference. I added sweet roasted garlic as well, and let the whole thing simmer to let the flavors marry.
Necessity is indeed the mother of invention!
However, after a recent, large family gathering, I had a truckload of grilled veggies left over – lots of different peppers from sweet to hot, zucchini, summer squash, onions, and a large mound of grilled cherry tomatoes. I made them into a lovely ratatouille, and it was the best ever. This will be my technique from this point forward, weather permitting!
Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille
2 -3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 red pepper, cut in half
1 orange pepper, cut in half
1 purple onion, cut in half
2 Jalapeno peppers if you want some warmth
1 small Japanese eggplant, sliced in long planks, or diagonal slices
1 or 2 zucchini, sliced in long planks, or diagonal slices
1 or 2 yellow summer squash, sliced in long planks or diagonal slices
2 medium leeks, whites and some light green, sliced lengthwise
1 head new garlic, divided
*1 tbsp. dried herbes de Provence or 2 tbsp. fresh blend
3 or 4 cups cherry tomatoes, all colors, or diced heirloom tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, and additional fresh basil to garnish
Start your charcoal, or preheat your grill to high. When ready to cook, move the coals on the conventional grill to one side so you will have a hot and cold side. If using a gas grill, reduce the heat to medium.
Prep vegetables and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Pull a couple of the cloves off the garlic head, mince them up and set aside. Leave the rest of the head together to grill.
While the vegetables are grilling, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. I use my 12” stainless steel pan. Add the minced garlic cloves, warm, remove from heat, and then set aside to infuse when the vegetables are grilling.
You will want to grill your vegetables that take the longest (such as onions, leeks, and garlic head) first, moving them to the cooler side to finish cooking after browning. The squashes and peppers will only be cooked until they soften and color, and the cherry tomatoes can be placed in a basket for a quick softening and gently browning until they start to pop.
Once all the vegetables are grilled, chopped to your desired size, small dice to pretty big chunk, and add to skillet with the olive oil. Mash up the grilled garlic and add to the rest of the vegetables, along with the herbes de Provence, and bay leaves. Taste to adjust the seasoning.
Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, add vinegar, cover, and let set for another 15 minutes. To serve, top with fresh herbs such as basil or parsley, or sprinkle with a bit of cheese.
Eat this hot, warm, or cold! You will have plenty for use in other meals, and some for the freezer as well.
Herbes de Provence: There are many blends you can find already prepared, and some are quite good. You can easily make your own mixture. Basic ingredients include thyme, savory, basil, fennel, rosemary (not too much), tarragon, and lavender. You can add marjoram, oregano, or any lovely summer herb you like. If using fresh herbs, use twice as much as dried.