While I was sifting through several ratatouille recipes and methods online this week, I discovered that there are several "correct" ways to make it. Some involve roasting the vegetables separately while others require chopping everything up and making a stew, and others involve layering and slow-roasting the vegetables together. Originally invented by French peasants, ratatouille was designed to be an economical and uncomplicated way to use up all of the late-summer vegetables together in a stew. It was only later that Chef Thomas Keller revamped this concept when he was asked by Pixar to make a fancier version of the dish for the movie, Ratatouille, and named his version "confit byaldi." This version involves placing thinly sliced vegetables accordion style and baking them together in one pan.
Ratatouille is already vegan, so the traditional components don't really need to be adjusted. However, I left out the red pepper and added in oil-cured olives for this version. This tasted great right out of the oven, but was even better the next day, after all of the flavors have had a chance to mingle a bit. Serve it with some bread and red wine for a simple and pretty September dinner.
1 TB olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 TB flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 TB fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup crushed roma tomatoes (I used a prepared version)
1/2 small onion, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced on a mandoline slicer
1 small squash, sliced on a mandoline slicer
1 small eggplant, sliced on a mandoline slicer
1 tomato, chopped
extra parsley, chopped (for serving)
handful of oil-cured olives, chopped (for serving)
Place the olive oil and chopped onion in a small cast-iron pan over low heat. After about 5 minutes, sprinkle it with the thyme, oregano, salt and pepper flakes. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes without stirring. Add in the garlic and stir everything around. Let simmer for about 10 minutes more. Add in the fresh parsley, basil and roma tomato sauce. Stir to combine and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes more.
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
Remove the pan from the heat and place onto a potholder on your countertop. Distribute the sliced onion onto the bottom.
Place a zucchini slice in the middle, then cover it with a squash slice so only the rind part is showing. Place an eggplant slice on top of that and repeat the process until you've created a spiral design in one long strand around your entire pan. It took me about 20 minutes to get all of the slices placed as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the chopped tomatoes over the top. Place a piece of circular parchment paper on top of the pan, then place a piece of foil over the entire pan. Place into the oven to bake for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, remove the parchment paper and foil. Increase the oven heat to 400 degrees, then bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown.
Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and olives.