There are many ways to make a ratatouille, traditionally thought of as a peasant dish, though most people I’ve spoken described it as stew-like dish of cubed vegetables in a pepper-tomato sauce. The more formal version involves baking cascading circles of brightly colored, thinly-sliced summer vegetable in a sparse sauce.
I served this with a quick cheddar polenta, but it can also be served with anything from rice to mashed potatoes, or even a good quality sourdough. Additionally, you can prepare this recipe the day before: cut and arrange the veggies ahead of time in the pan and store the completed/prepped dish covered in the fridge until you’re ready for baking.
Ratatouille with Cheddar Polenta
½ sweet onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 cup tomato puree or sauce
1 tsp tomato paste (optional)
1 small eggplant
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 narrow red bell pepper
2 or 3 roma tomatoes (optional)
Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Cut a parchment round to fit snugly inside the baking dish you are using (this is sometimes easier if you turn the empty dish upside down on the parchment and trace.)
- Coat the bottom of your preferred baking dish with tomato puree. Add sliced garlic, minced onions, tomato paste, 1 tbs. olive oil, and a generous amount of salt and pepper, stirring to incorporate.
- Trim the ends off your veggies and slice carefully into 1/16th-inch thick rounds. (For the pepper, slice into thin rounds – don’t aim for the thinness of the other veggies).
- Arrange the veggies in the baking dish on top of the tomato sauce, starting from the outer edge and moving inwards concentrically, alternating and overlapping everything so only a small amount of the round is exposed.
- Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with thyme (removing the leaves from the stem by pulling your fingertips against the grain of the stem).
- Cover with pre-cut parchment round.
- Bake for roughly 45 to 55 minutes. The vegetables will have softened somewhat, but they should not be floppy. The tomato sauce will be simmering happily around the veggies but no browning should occur.
- Serve atop a heaping portion of cheddar polenta, or some crusty bread.
1 ½ cups milk
½ cup water
Salt to taste
½ cup + 1 tbs. medium-grain yellow polenta (I use Bob’s Redmill Brand)
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- Heat milk and water in a 2 qt. sauce pan until steaming – do not let it boil! Add butter and a dash of salt, then quickly whisk in the polenta until fully incorporated.
- Lower the heat to a low simmer and cover, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. If polenta gets dry, add a few tbs. more milk and stir.
- Stir in shredded cheeses and salt and pepper to taste.
*If preparing in advance, cool in a flat square dish. Slice cold pieces like you would cake and pan-fry in 1 tbs. butter over low heat until browned on one side. Flip, repeat, and serve. (Or, reheat in the microwave – not as satisfying, but still good).