Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille

I adore vegetables. I think they're my favorite thing to eat as well as to cook. I love their colors, their textures and their flavors. But what I most admire about vegetables is their ability to morph from crunchy and sweet (when raw) to savory and al dente after roasting, steaming, sauteeing or grilling.

This ratatouille recipe illustrates that. Taste the vegetables before you put them in the hot oven, after you've got them spread out and seasoned on the baking sheet. YUM! But then, after they've roasted and you've combined them with the sauteed garlic and tomatoes, WOW! It's a whole new dish.

Enjoy this over grilled polenta for a vegetarian dinner; as a side dish for simple roasted chicken or baked fish; or over pasta with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. The recipe can be doubled for a bigger crowd.

Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 small Italian eggplant
1 medium zucchini
1/2 large sweet onion
1 medium yellow pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. herbs de provence
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic -- minced
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
fresh parsley and/or fresh basil -- chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (400 for convection).

Chop the eggplant, zucchini, pepper and onion into bite-size chunks and mix them all together in a large bowl. Coat lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs de provence. Spread vegetables on a large sheet pan (covered with foil for easier cleaning) and roast in pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are soft and starting to look charred around the edges. (Convection: roast for 15 - 20 minutes.)

In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, saute garlic on medium-low heat in olive oil until soft, about 1-2 minutes, being careful garlic doesn't brown. Add tomatoes and simmer a few minutes. Add roasted vegetables to the pan. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes or until all flavors meld. Before serving, top with fresh herbs.

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