When I first arrived in Paris three years ago, the movie “Ratatouille” was playing, and Xavier and I went to go see it one weekend at one of the theatres on the Champs-Elysees, just a few blocks away. This was way before I’d figured out that I had this crazy ol’ Cowgirl Chef alter ego rumbling around inside of me, but I instantly fell in love with this movie, and especially Remy, the rat who loved to cook.
Not long after we saw “Ratatouille,” as a surprise, Xavier got me a coffee mug with Remy popping out of it, and I’ve had my morning coffee out of this same mug every day since (Do y’all do that – have a special mug that you drink your coffee out of?). Even when things aren’t going so well, that silly mug makes me smile.
It’s the little things, right?
The other day, I was making a roast chicken for dinner, and thought, hmmm, roast. Roasted Ratatouille. Because everything’s better roasted, I think.
So I separately roasted all of the veggies, mixed them up together in a pot – and voila! – I had ratatouille. What’s nice about this is unlike regular ratatouille, where you cook everything together in a pot until it’s done, roasting means the veggies won’t be mushy.
Who wants soggy pants vegetables when you can have crispy critters?
Quick, easy, and – bonus – cheap (!) to make, this works as a side to just about anything, or as a light lunch or dinner with a spoonful of Greek yogurt, mixed up with some pasta and mozzarella, or thrown into a quiche or omelet.
Would be super-nice made on a grill (as most things would), but I know that y’all are tired of hearing me talk about the Paris grill gestapo, so I won’t go into that.
1 large eggplant, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds, then quartered
1 large red bell pepper, sliced in 1-inch chunks
3 medium zucchini, sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small yellow onion, sliced in 1/2-inch chunks
4 medium tomatoes, halved (or 1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes if you can’t find fresh ones)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme (1 tablespoon for the tomatoes; the other, for the ratatouille)
½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder (optional; add this if you want to cowgirlify)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to Broil.
1. Spread eggplant on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and the red bell pepper, onion and garlic on another (the eggplant will cook more quickly than the others). Put the zucchini on a separate cookie sheet, too.
2. Lightly drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper everything but the eggplant (it’s sponge-like, and I’d rather it not soak up any oil).
3. Working in batches, roast the veggies (watching them carefully so they don’t burn). Slice the roasted garlic, and put it in a large mixing bowl with the roasted eggplant, zucchini, and onion.
4. Turn the oven down to 150c/300F. Now, it’s tomato-time. Put the halved tomatoes on parchment-lined cookie sheet, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, some sea salt, pepper, and fresh thyme, if you’ve got it. Roast the tomatoes for 3-4 hours — you may want to do this in advance, or overnight, in which case you can just turn the heat down by half. (Remember, if you don’t have time to roast the tomatoes, you may use canned tomatoes. I do this all the time, and it works out just fine.)
5. When the tomatoes are done — they’ll still be meaty, but now, very sweet — cut them the halves in half, and add them to the rest of the veggies in the bowl. Add the red pepper flakes, sea salt to taste, and if you’d like, a little more fresh thyme.
I like this at room temp the best, but you may also eat it warm or cold, straight from the fridge.