Oven Ratatouille


This recipe looks long. But really, it's just a lot of instruction about properly roasting the various vegetables in this dish. The roasting sweetens and concentrates the flavors of them all. This is a very healthy, very tasty dish. Another from Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without.

3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large globe eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into 3/4-inch cubes (peeling unnecessary if the skin is tight and smooth)
2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes (or 1 smallish heirloom or beefsteak)
6 medium-sized garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 large bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange)
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
1 medium zucchini (7 to 8 inches long), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
1/2 teaspoon each crumbled dried thyme and rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Optional:
Small amounts of fresh herbs (basil, marjoram or oregano, rosemary, thyme, and/or parsley)
Pitted chopped olives

Arrange an oven rack in the topmost position, and another in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line 1 small and 2 large baking trays with foil, and coast the foil generously with the olive oil.

Place the eggplant on one of the large trays, and toss to coat with oil. Then push it to one side, keeping it in a single layer. Arrange the tomatoes on the other half of the tray, rolling them around so they get coated with oil. Wrap the garlic cloves (still in their skins) and a half teaspoon of water tightly in a piece of foil, and place this on the corner of the same tray.

Place the whole bell peppers on the small tray.

Spread the onions and the zucchini pieces on opposite ends of the remaining large tray, and toss to coat with the oil.

Place the eggplant tray on the middle shelf of the oven, and put the small sheet with the peppers on the upper rack. After 10 minutes, use tongs to turn everything over. Repeat this turning process after another 10 minutes or so. Gently squeeze the garlic to see if it is soft. If it is, remove it from the oven; if not, continue roasting.

Place the onion-zucchini tray on the middle shelf next to the one with the eggplant, and continue roasting all for another 10 minutes. Turn the peppers and tomatoes one more time, and toss the eggplant, onions, and zucchini to help them brown evenly. Sprinkle the eggplant, onions, and zucchini evenly with the dried herbs. Once again, squeeze the garlic to see if it is soft. If so, remove it from the oven; if not, continue roasting. Roast a final 10 minutes, or until the vegetables become deep golden brown and very tender.

Transfer the eggplant, onion, and zucchini to a large bowl. Let the peppers, tomatoes, and garlic sit for a few minutes, or until comfortable to handle. Peel the peppers, then chop the tomatoes and peeled peppers roughly into 1-inch pieces and add to the eggplant mixture. Slip the roasted garlic cloves from their skins, mash with a fork, and add to the eggplant mixture.

Toss until well combined. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled to plain or topped with a sprinkling of freshly chopped herbs and/or olives.

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