At times I decide to make complicated recipes. I’m not sure why, because I typically curse myself halfway through the process, but the end result is well worth it, and sometimes it ends up being a very peaceful process.
My husband (since that’s what he now is!) and I work very well together in the kitchen. He helps me chop veggies, makes sure I don’t burn anything, and in general keeps me on track, as I’m a little scatterbrained at times. So here is one of my favorite dishes to make, not only is it super yummy, but it’s pretty darn healthy too.
Get everything out, pour yourself a glass of wine, and prepare yourself to spend at least the next hour or two hanging out in the kitchen. If I want dinner at 6, I usually start around 1, because it always takes me longer than I think it should to get everything together.
- 1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
- 1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
- 1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
- 1 large Japanese eggplant
- 2 small zucchini
- 2 small yellow squash
- 4 to 5 roma tomatoes
- 2 Shallots
- 1 large garlic clove, mined
- 1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1 14.5-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
- 5 sprigs thyme, divided
- 2 sprigs parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 to 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine (I just my favorite, the Cline Mourvedre)
- 1 package Andouille sausage
- Shredded parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Turn the oven to 450 F, put some tin foil down on a cookie sheet, and set your peppers cut side down on it. Roast them until they’re nice and tender, and the skin will peel off easily. Remove from the oven and set to cool, remove the skin, then roughly chop.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 F.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a 12-inch cast iron skillet and warm up on low heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until slightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the wine, two sprigs of thyme, parsley, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer about 20 minutes. Add the chopped peppers in there after about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and discard the herbs.
During the whole sauce making part, I prep everything else. Grab your mandolin, set it to 1/4″, and slice slice slice. You’ll want to do this to the zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and shallots. Once that’s done use a knife and cut your tomatoes and sausage to a similar size.
After allowing the sauce to cool a bit, put it in the blender and puree away. I keep somewhere between 1/2 – 1 cup of the sauce in reserve, and add everything else back into the cast iron.
Start from the outside of the pan and work your way in, arranging the slices of tomato, zucchini, squash, eggplant, shallots and sausage. Let them “lean” a bit, leaving the top edge exposed. Since everything is a slightly different size, don’t worry that they don’t perfectly line up, and if you run out of one type of ingredient, just keep going with what you have left. The OCD may hurt, but it will taste fantastic none the less. I get about 3 circles in my larger cast iron.
Scatter the remaining thyme slices over the top and drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil. Season with a bit of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover the pan with foil and bake until the vegetables are tender, about 1-1/2 hours (or until your mouth is watering so bad you have to eat it NOW). Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes. I add a little fresh Parmesan cheese on when it’s done.
Take the pepper sauce you saved, and add 1 tablespoon oil and balsamic vinegar. Whisk together. After serving, I drizzle a little over the top of the ratatouille, and use the rest as a dipping sauce for the fresh garlic bread I always get from the Jewel bakery to serve as a side.