Sunday, September 4, 2011

Farmer's Market Ratatouille

We're really quite lucky living in an area where farming is still an important family business and I make sure my Saturdays, during May through October, include a trip to our local farmer's market in Redmond to support them.  I know the produce is fresh and I love talking with the people about their gardens--it makes me yearn for the times growing up and helping my grandparents with their vegetable garden.  Passing by the many booths my mind is filled with all sorts of recipes, but yesterday I was craving Ratatouille.

Ratatouille is a traditional French Provencal dish of stewed vegetables, originating in Nice.  In fact, the full name is actually ratatouille nicoise.  It's usually served as a side dish, but can also be a meal on its own.  The vegetables needed for ratatouille include: garlic and onions, courgettes (zucchini), aubergine (eggplant) poivron (peppers) and tomatoes, in addition the following herbs: basil, oregano, marjoram and thyme .  Julia Child made this dish by first sauteing the courgettes and aubergine, then, she layered these vegetables with the other ingredients in a casserole and baked it in the oven.  I have also seen recipes where the vegetables are grilled first and then layered to bake.

However, I have my own unique version--I like to roast my vegetables sans the tomatoes, then, place everything in a Dutch oven to cook on top of the stove adding canned "Fire-roasted" tomatoes.  I usually serve it as a side dish, but yesterday, I also made polenta that I grilled as a base for my ratatouille.

Roasted Ratatouille

2 medium aubergines (eggplants), peeled, sliced and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2-3 medium courgettes (zucchini) sliced and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 head of garlic, peeled and diced
1 large shallot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 can (28oz) Muir Glen Fire Roasted Whole Tomatoes
1 can (16 oz) Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1 tsp. dried Oregano
1 tsp. dried Basil
1/2 tsp. dried Majorem
1/2 tsp. dried Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for roasting

Preheat oven to 400F-degrees.
Prepare the vegetables.  Place all the vegetables, except the tomatoes, in a large bowl.  Toss with 1/4 cup or more of olive oil.  Transfer the vegetables on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
Roast vegetables for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes for even browning.  I started the polenta while the vegetables were roasting.  When the vegetables have reached a golden brown color, transfer to a 6-quart Dutch oven.  Add the canned tomatoes--for the whole tomatoes, I squeezed them in my hands to break them up while I added them.
Cover pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir and lower temperature to a simmer.  

I used Bob's Red Mill polenta and followed the directions on the back of the packaging.  I added a cup of cheese mixture--mozzarella, fontina, and Parmesan.  When it had thickened, I poured it onto a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Spread evenly then, cover with parchment and let set for an hour.  It will firm up and I cut it into squares, then, triangles.  I brushed the top side of the triangle with a little olive oil and place it "face down" onto a hot grill pan.  I grilled it over medium/high heat for about 5 minutes each side, brushing the top side before turning it.
As a vegetarian, this was a complete meal for me, but I did a piece of salmon and a few shrimp on a alder plank for my hubby.  Sprinkle the top with additional grated Parmesan.
This is a wonderful dish to celebrate the harvest!  I felt like I was back in my grandparent's kitchen, bringing in baskets of vegetables to decide what we'd make.  Enjoy!


  1. Great dish! I prefer my veggies roasted, too. They have so much more flavor.

  2. sounds good. I've never made Ratatouille ....I'll have to try it. thanks for recipe.
    stamping sue

  3. Well it looks like I can post once again!!! So I will tell you that ratatouille is one of our favorite meals. And by coincidence, I made ratatouille just two days before you made yours!! I grilled slices of chilled grits and layered it with the ratatouille and topped it with cheese---baked it for about 15 minutes. Yum!! Love & Hugs, Barb
    PS I would say "great minds think alike" but we both know that my mind isn't so great these days!! I love you!

  4. Oh, Pleeeeeeeeeeese! Your mind is pretty great--I have an amazing afghan to prove it : )

  5. Good evening my dear friend~

    I wanted to pop by before I went to bed tonight to say hello. I hope you are well and so lovely to see so much baking, cooking and sewing going on. Just wanted to let you know that my Mother claimed my beautiful apron on Sunday. She looked heavenly as she washed our lunch dishes...I just let her know that it had to go back behind my kitchen door before she left for home.~

    Love to you my friend
    Love you

  6. Thanks Auntie Mom will have an even greater excuse to have a bigger garden next year. And for the record - even I eat my vegetables - I was chomping on fresh green beans yesterday.
    xoxo Cashie

  7. Yes Ma'am this is just what our Maine cold weather calls for right now.

    I too love the simple joy of meandering through the stalls, feasting my eyes on the produce, and talking with the growers. Such a wonderful connection to our food supply.

    I will try this recipe for a group coming over this coming Monday. I'll pick up the veggies at Farmer's this weekend. I like the addition of polenta, but wonder how you've done with Bob's polenta??? Our came out so rough and when we bit into it it was as if some of it wouldn't cook.

    Love you,


  8. Sharon~I used Bob's Organic Polenta--Corn Grits, sort of a medium grind, just up from cornmeal and had no problem with uncooked bits. I brought 6 cups of water and 1 tsp. salt to a boil, then gradually added 2 cups of the corn grits. Stirring constantly, this should take about 30 minutes. I've also seen prepared polenta in the pasta-aisle, so you could just slice and grill. However, the ratatouille is excellent and I'm sure that was due to the freshness of the veggies from the Farmer's Market and all the love these vendors put into their produce! XOXO