When a traditional recipe just won’t do…
Many cooks will go to great lengths to please their loved ones, and I certainly do the same for my husband Marc. After all, one of the greatest rewards is for people to relish the food you serve them.
And as it happens, my husband Marc hates ratatouille – a most unfortunate thing, since I personally adore it! However, he does love all the individual ingredients in the beloved Provençal dish: tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini and eggplants (well… maybe not so much eggplants). His only real objection is to the texture of the soft, soggy veggies.
So why not grill the vegetables instead of stewing them? Voilà… grilled ratatouille! And for a savory bite, I sprinkle fried capers on top of the sauce just before I serve it – incredibly addictive!
Serve as a snack, a side, a main course… or even for brunch!
This ratatouille is massively flavorful and superb on its own with crusty bread slices. But it also makes a fantastic side vegetable with grilled chicken or fish. For a main course, serve it with toasted couscous. And for brunch, spoon it over fried or poached eggs. However you serve it, always drizzle it with a fruity, robust extra virgin olive oil.
Here’s to ratatouille… in all its forms!
Food & wine pairing: Provence, Ventoux AOC red with grilled vegetable ratatouille
A Provençal red from Ventoux AOC feels right at home with this grilled ratatouille. These wines are blends of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, and Carignan. They are juicy and have good acidity, red fruit aromas and a hint of spice – beautiful with the dish. Alternatively, pour a Grenache (Garnacha) from Catalonia in Northeastern Spain.
Grilled vegetable ratatouille with fried capers
active time: 45 min
For the grilled vegetables
- 1 red bell pepper – quartered and seeded
- 1 yellow pepper – quartered and seeded
- 2 young zucchini (about 8″ long) – stem-ends trimmed and cut lengthwise in 3/8″ slices
- 1 medium eggplant (1 lb) (455 g) – stem-end trimmed and cut lengthwise in 3/8″ slices
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed, canola or olive oil
- sea salt to taste
For the ratatouille
- 3 lbs (1.4 kg) very ripe tomatoes – peeled, seeded (seeds strained and juices reserved, about 2/3 cup) or 1 – 28 oz (800 g) can whole, peeled plum tomatoes plus 1/4 cup spring water
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium Vidalia or sweet onion – peeled and cut in 1/4″ pieces
- 6 large garlic cloves – skinned and finely sliced
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (lots of it!)
- 1 oz (30 g) basil leaves (2 cups loosely packed) – large leaves torn in half
- 1 recipe fried capers
- extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Step 1: Preheat a charcoal, gas or electric grill to high. Place the red peppers and zucchini and eggplant slices on a jelly roll pan and brush lightly on all sides with the oil. When the grill is ready, place the vegetables directly on the grill and cook until grill marks appear. Turn the vegetables and grill the other side until grill marks appear. Transfer to a plate, sprinkle with the salt and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, cut in 3/4″ pieces and set aside.
- Step 2: Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they’re coarsely chopped. Set aside.
- Step 3: Heat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onions. Sauté for 8 to 10 minutes until the onions are golden-brown, stirring from time to time. Add the garlic and continue sautéing for 1 minute only, stirring continuously and taking care not to brown the garlic. Add the chopped tomatoes and reserved tomato juice (or water if using canned tomatoes), stir well and bring to a boil. As soon as the sauce reaches boiling point, reduce heat to medium/medium-low. Slow-simmer uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes until the sauce is thick, stirring from time to time. Add the salt, pepper and basil. Stir well and continue to simmer until the basil has wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool for about 10 minutes, then stir in the grilled vegetables. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve the ratatouille warm or at room temperature (depending on the dish you’re serving it with). Sprinkle with the fried capers and drizzle with the olive oil just before serving. (See introduction and Viviane’s tip for suggestions.)
- Cook’s note: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Warm the sauce over medium heat, until just warm. Do not bring to a boil or it will lose its texture.
- One of my favorite ways to eat this ratatouille is with toasted couscous. It makes a super-delicious main course, and the toasted couscous (which only takes minutes to make) is incredibly flavorful with the sauce. Check out my Spanish chickpea stew recipe for instructions on how to make toasted couscous.