Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ratatouille Gratin

The Southern girl in me would like to say that this recipe is really a vegetable casserole with a fancy name! Ratatouille, according to Food Lover’s Companion, is a popular dish from Provence that combines eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic, and herbs—all simmered in olive oil. We eat ratatouille a lot in the summer because it makes good use of the plethora of produce in my farmers market basket. Tonight as I prepared dinner, it occurred to me that adding homemade croutons to the top would make it even better (hence the “gratin”). I used homemade wheat bread cut into chunks, and the nutty-sweetness was a nice complement to the veggies. My next idea is to reinvent the leftovers by tossing them with cooked pasta. Bread and pasta in the same dish—how could you go wrong?

Ratatouille Gratin
This ratatouille deviates from the traditional because I omitted the eggplant (there was none in my basket this week).
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
1 to 2 zucchini, cut into chunks
1 to 2 yellow squash, cut into chunks
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes (2 large tomatoes, cut into chunks, may be substituted)
2 tsp. herbs de Provence
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter

Whole-wheat bread, cut into chunks
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Sauté onion and bell pepper in hot oil for 10 minutes or until vegetables soften. Add in garlic, and cook 1 more minute. Stir in zucchini and next 4 ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until mixture begins to break down. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in olive oil in an oven-proof skillet. Add bread chunks, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until all liquid is absorbed. Transfer pan to oven, and bake at 400° for 10 to 15 minutes or until bread is crusty.
3. Pour vegetable mixture into a baking dish. Top with croutons, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes.

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