What I make to satisfy my need to eat ratatouille after watching Ratatouille for the ten thousandth time in French class.
Yield 3 servings as a main dish or 4 servings as a side dish
2 small eggplants (any variety)
2 medium zucchini
2 large bell peppers
14 ounces of tomato paste or plain tomato sauce (about 1 medium can)
2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
A generous pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of dried thyme
2 teaspoons of dried basil
2 teaspoons of oregano
A good crack of black pepper
Good soft cheese (optional)
At least a half an hour before you want to bake your ratatouille, slice the eggplants into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch rounds.
Liberally salt the eggplant rounds and let them sit on a baking sheet or cutting board until assembly time, at least 30 minutes. This is to help some of the water get out and make your eggplant tender, not mushy and gushy.
Next, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the zucchini into 1/4-inch rounds and the bell peppers into 1/4-inch rings.
Set the sliced veggies aside. On the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish, mix together the tomato paste or tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, onion, garlic, and the generous pinch of salt. With the back of a spoon or a small spatula, spread it out so the bottom is completely coated.
To assemble, put one piece of eggplant with two or three slices of zucchini and a slice of pepper. Keep going until you run out of space or vegetables…whichever comes first.
Sprinkle the top with the dried thyme, basil, and oregano, a black pepper, and an additional tablespoon of olive oil.
Cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit snugly atop the dish. Stick the ratatouille in the oven until the veggies are tender and beginning to curl around the edges, about 45 to 50 minutes.
If you don’t want cheese, you can stop here. If you’re opting for the dairy, top the ratatouille with your desired amount of cheese (for me, about 10 tiny squares cut from two slices worth) and broil until completely melted, about 5 minutes.
Serve immediately with a large fork and a hungry belly.