Ratatouille is a stew-like vegetable dish from the Provence area of France. It usually contains eggplant, zucchini, onion and peppers, but nothing in the world of food is a commandment; other vegetables can be used at the cook’s whim. Ratatouille serves nicely as a side dish or a main vegetarian offering. I like to digress a bit and bring out more vegetable flavor by roasting all the vegetables instead of stewing them.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 teaspoon coarse salt
4 twists of the peppermill
3 small zucchini, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds
3 small Japanese eggplant, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds
8 large cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 medium onion, peeled, cut in half and sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
1 cup grated cheese
4 large basil leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour the olive oil into a large bowl, and stir in the salt and pepper. Add all the vegetables and toss gently to coat in the oil.
2. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a nonstick baking sheet and spread in a single layer. Use two baking sheets if necessary.
3. Roast in the oven until the vegetables are soft but not mushy and begin to take on some color, approximately 25 minutes. Turn the vegetables once halfway through the roasting cycle.
4. When ready to serve, transfer the vegetables to a serving dish. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over them and allow it to melt.
5. Stack up the basil leaves and roll them tightly. Slice the leaves crosswise with
a knife to chiffonade the basil and sprinkle over the vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.