Ratatouille, that Mediterranean melange of sweet peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant, is a perfect goodbye to summer dish. You’ll notice in the markets that peppers, tomatoes and zucchini are usually at their prime toward the end of September. I often make up a batch of this as the days get shorter to cheer myself up.
This colorful vegetable casserole, with its lusty, Provençal flavors, can be prepared in a number of different ways. Traditionally, each vegetable is sauteed in olive oil separately and then all the vegetables are added together at the end of the cooking. This can make for one very oily dish. Many of the vegetables tend to get saturated with the oil.
In this baked rendition, the vegetables are roasted in stages, using much less oil. All the traditional flavors are included with a lighter finish. Adding the pesto at the end brings all the flavors together. If you make this pesto, you can use any remaining pesto on vegetables, pasta or as a sauce for chicken. If you don’t have the time, just pick your favorite store-bought variety.
Ratatouille can be served as a side dish with any grilled fish, chicken or meat. I love to serve it as a chilled salad. (You can jazz it up by adding some capers and black olives, if you like.) It is also excellent as a filling in omelets and crepes. Once you make this and try it, you’ll probably come up with your own favorite way to serve it. Let me know if you have any new favorite ideas. Enjoy.
Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking,most recently “Seriously Simple Parties.” Contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com
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