I love this time of year! The fall bounty of eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, squash, onions, and garlic is irresistible. I looked in my refrigerator and everything I needed to make ratatouille was staring right up at me.
When I was working at La Cuisine Catering in Los Angeles, a lifetime ago, my boss and mentor, Tom Byrne, used to brunoise all of the vegetables and serve them in cucumber cups, or Belgian endive spears for beautiful vegetarian appetizers.
I love to serve this version with seared salmon or herb grilled chicken thighs. The trick is to cook most everything separately and then heat together before serving.
• 1 pint assorted grape, pear, and cherry tomatoes, the more colors the better
• 1 medium shallot sliced thinly
• 1 red and 1 yellow pepper
• 1 med. Japanese eggplant (or other variety) peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
• 1 medium to small zucchini, seeded, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
• 1 yellow crock neck squash, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch dice
• 1 onion cut into 1/4 inch dice
• 1 medium shallot finely chopped
• 3 chopped garlic cloves
• 3 t. fresh chopped thyme
• Olive oil as needed for sautéing and seasoning
• Kosher salt and freshly ground white and black pepper
• about 1 T. red wine vinegar
Slice tomatoes in half, toss with sliced shallot, some olive oil, salt, black and white pepper, and 1 t. thyme. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, and cook in slow oven at 225 degrees for about 2 hours or until 75% dried out and starting to caramelized, but not burnt. Put cooled tomatoes in large bowl.
Coat red and yellow peppers lightly with olive oil and roast on a pan in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until skin is mostly blackened. Turn once or twice during cooking. Place in ziplock bag or bowl covered with plastic to steam. Once cooled peel, seed and cut into 1/4 inch dice and add to tomatoes.
Put diced eggplant into nonstick pan over medium heat with no oil. Cook 5 to 10 minute or until softened and lightly browned. Do not overcook, or let get mushy. Season with salt and pepper and add to tomatoes and peppers when cooled.
Sauté green and yellow squash separately with a little olive oil, salt and pepper for just a few minutes, until slightly softened, but not soggy, then add to vegetable mixture when cooled.
In large sauté pan over medium high heat, sauté onion in some olive oil for 2 or 3 minutes, add chopped shallots and cook for another 2 minutes, add garlic and the rest of the thyme and cook for one or 2 more minutes, then add the rest of the vegetables until just heated through. Add red wine vinegar, salt, peppers, and olive oil to taste.
Jimmy Smith is the founder, co-owner, and VP of Love Catering, Inc. in Los Angeles, a full-service catering company to to the stars…and their hanger’s-on. For the past seven years, he has been a stay-at-home Dad and short-order cook for his partner and their seven year-old triplets here in Topsfield, MA. Yes, triplets…