Summer is a great time for colours. I love the white of winter and the quite stillness, but things get grey and slushy fast. Maybe it hasn’t gotten as warm as it should be by now, but those beautiful, bright harbingers of better days are upon us. Tulips peeking out, the cherry blossoms – which come and go far too quickly in my opinion – and lush green everywhere. Produce is rolling in and pops of rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries and heirloom carrots are everywhere… the rainbow is endless.
Now is a great time of year to incorporate more vegetarian meals into the repertoire. I am totally satiated by veggie pastas and pizzas, but I still gravitate toward meaty mains. I love the flavours in ratatouille, but traditionally it can be very soft and mushy. I love roasting it for that charred goodness, and frankly it is just easier than doing it the traditional way. In the heat of the summer you can just as easily fire up the grill and do it al fresco. It takes a little more watchful time, but it’s super duper tasty.
ROASTED RAINBOW RATATOUILLE
1 large eggplant or 2 small ones
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 small zucchini or 1 zucchini and 1 yellow summer squash
2 large tomatoes, 4-5 smaller ones or a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes
1 large red onion, peeled
2 heads of garlic, cloves separated and papery skin left on
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 sprigs of fresh thyme or 2 tbsp dried thyme
kosher or sea salt and fresh ground pepper
optional: 2-3 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed
Preheat your oven to 400F. Chop all your veg into similar sized pieces – about 1″ – 2″. Toss all your veg together on a rimmed baking pan large enough to allow everything to lay relatively flat. If you have a smaller oven then split it between 2 pans. Pour over the oil and vinegar and liberally season with salt and pepper. Add your thyme on the stem and toss again to make sure everything gets incorporated and evenly seasoned.
Place in the oven – if using 2 pans put on racks in the upper and lower section of your oven. Roast for 15 minutes and remove from oven and stir about. If you are using 2 pans rotate them now. Roast for another 15 – 20 minutes. Keep an eye out that nothing browns too quickly, if it does then take out and stir some more. You want a nice char.
Let come to room temperature or until it can be handled. Sift through and pull out the stems left from the rosemary. Squeeze all your garlic from their skins. Taste so seasoning and add a little extra salt or pepper if needed.
TO SERVE: You can eat this as a side dish as is. As a main add a little tomato sauce and serve with crusty baguette. This can be used a numerous other amount of ways, use your imagination! It’s great chilled as a summer salad, I’ve done it as topping for flatbread or crostini, mixed into chili, tossed with some pasta with more olive oil and fresh basil… the list goes on.