Summer brings fresh tomatoes and all sorts of herbs and goodies from the garden. There are still a few weeks left in some parts of the country for locally-grown tomatoes and basil.
Ratatouille is a popular summer dish because it uses garden fresh tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and can be made ahead, reheated, and even served at room temperature.
This week, I played around with my own recipe—a new twist on an old standby (ratatouille). I simplified it a bit and omitted the peppers and used the delicious bruschetta seasoning that I found in Wilmington, North Carolina this summer at the Italian Gourmet Market. I also experimented with adding cheese, which typical ratatouille does not do.
There are still plenty of “deck days” left where we live in Virginia. This will be a good dinner this Friday evening with some French bread, grilled chicken, and some wine…all on the deck as we recover from the first week of school! I’ll make it ahead the night before so when I get home from work on Friday all I have to do is put it in the oven.
Bagkelley’s Late-Summer Veggies
First, the good things about this recipe:
Do you like bleu or feta cheeses? Add one for a different taste. This recipe goes with your mood and taste buds. I experimented separately with both feta and bleu with great results.
TIP: Peeling and salting the eggplant will give it a buttery and not bitter flavor. Typical ratatouille does not call for peeling the eggplant.
You’ll note that these are all approximate measurements. You simply cannot mess up this dish. The vegetables “show up” no matter what you do to them.
TIP: Don’t use a sweet onion like a Vidalia sort—the sweet ones lose their onion pungence-ness (is that a word?) when cooked. Save sweet onions for salads or on burgers.
This dish can perch on a buffet for several hours, not spoil, get to room temperature and still be delish!
This is light fare that can be eaten with French bread dipped in the olive oil.
- Olive oil, plenty of it
- 1 large eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 3 zucchini or yellow squash or both, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 3 large tomatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 large onion, sliced thinly.
- Garlic, about a clove minced
- Basil, about ½ cup, rolled and sliced (this is the way my brother Bobby advises cutting basil)
- Bruschetta seasoning (or season to taste with salt, black pepper, chili powder, dried basil)
- Panko breadcrumbs mixed with ½ cup parmesan cheese and ¼ cup olive oil
- Cheese is optional, choose crumbled feta or bleu or mozzarella
Heat oven to 424 degrees.
Sautee onion, tomatoes, fresh garlic and fresh basil in a pan. Season to taste with the bruschetta seasoning or other recommended seasonings. Cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Set aside
Cover a foil-lined baking sheet with olive oil. Place the peeled and sliced eggplant on the sheet. Top with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for 10 minutes.
Do the same with the zucchini and/or yellow squash, olive oil, but they don’t need much salt to make them tender and good.
Now, we are ready to assemble and bake:
Spray a baking dish with oil, about 9’ x 12”, or use round casserole, whatever you have on hand
Layer eggplant, then tomato mixture, then one type of cheese if you like, then zucchini/yellow squash, eggplant. End with tomato mixture and cheese.
Top with Panko breadcrumb/cheese/olive oil mixture
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve hot or room temp.