Late summer veggies combine to make an amazing stew on a evening when you might notice that the sun is setting earlier. Rather than cook all the ingredients together in a single pot, this alternative version of ratatouille oven roasts each veggie separately before putting them all together for the final simmer. This method speeds up the recipe a bit and produces a prettier result as all the ingredients hold their shape and colour better when cooked separately first.
- 1 large or 2 small eggplants
- 2 summer squash (zucchinis or patty pans, or 1 of each)
- 2 medium onions
- 2-3 peppers
- 3 large tomatoes
- 1 bunch basil
- olive oil
1) Chop eggplant into 1 inch chunks. Place in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave to drain while you prep the other veggies. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2) Chop onions and fry in olive oil on high, adding a splash of water when the onions start to stick to the pan. The standard method for caramelizing onions is slow work, so we often use this short cut method to save time.
3) Chop summer squash into 1 inch chunks. Place in a roasting pan, salt light and drizzle with oil. By now the eggplant should be drained so you can drizzle than with oil in a separate roasting pan (so that you don't crowd any of the veggies) and put in the oven.
4) Slice peppers in half and place skin side up on a cookie sheet. Coat with olive oil and put in the oven. The squashes, eggplants and peppers should all take about 15-20 minutes to roast.
5) While the other veggies are roasting, coarsely chop tomatoes and mix with caramelized (or at least cooked down) onions in a pot with a sprinkle of salt. Heat on high until boiling and tomatoes start softening, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring to break up the tomatoes.
6) Remove roasting pans from the oven when veggies are thoroughly browned. Slice peppers into strips. Mix all into pot with onions and tomatoes.
7) Add basil to pot and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes. Taste and add more salt as needed.
8) Serve with a starch of your choice, like rice or pasta. For this meal, Eric made cornbread triangles to dip into the rich, tomato-based sauce.