When I initially showed this recipe to Mrblocko he looked me over and exclaimed, "Are you make me vegetarian?!" (As if that was some sort of felony offense.) I assured him that we could have it with some meat instead of mixed with pasta, polenta, pizza or panini as the original recipe suggests. (That's alotta "P" alliteration. Try saying "pasta, polenta, pizza or panini" ten times fast!)
In Praise of Leftovers calls this dish Summer Ratatouille. This is a summer dish as in veggies that are plentiful in the summertime. It's really not a great dish for a hot summer day since you are heating up the house roasting those veggies for two hours. Luckily, Mother Nature has totally gone wonky and is giving us lovely October weather. I'm not complaining. Fall weather is my favorite, especially when I don't have to rake up leaves.
My veggie break down went like this: 1 red pepper, 1 vidalia onion, 2 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, 1 small bag fingerling potatoes, 1 lb Roma tomatoes, 1 bulb garlic, and kalamata olives. I meant to put in celery and carrots, but realized I left them out about 1 hour into the roasting. There were more than enough veggies so they weren't missed.
I used leftover olives from when I made Mediterranean chicken burgers. I don't think I mentioned that I when I purchased the elusive Kalamatas, I accidentally grabbed the olives that had not been pitted. I hate pitting olives. At some point in the process I manage to squirt brine in my eye or up my nose. I'm extra special that way.
Before the oven:
The next time I make this I will cook it over a higher heat, at least 325 degrees F. The veggies baked 2.5 hours and they were still not as charred as I would have preferred. The juices were supposed to have completely evaporated. There was still quite a bit of liquid left in the pan after 2.5 hours. I made the executive decision that it was time to eat and we would live with the less than crispy veggies.
Blockette not like this dish. She ate it, but there was less drama on a Friday afternoon episode of Days of Our Lives. Poor kid, cause Mrblocko and I really liked this dish. She is going to be forced to eat it again. What a mean mommy!
Mrblocko was pleasantly surprised at how good this tasted. I wasn't. Roast any veggie and it brings out the wonderful goodness. Mrblocko did say that he could live without the squash and zucchini. I smacked him good upside the head for being such a cheeky monkey. I'm not the biggest fan of zucchini either, but eating it with a piece of roasted potato or onion made it taste delicious.
Now I have two predominately veggie dishes to rotate into the menu. First the Calibasitas and now the Summer Ratatouille. Who'da thunk a girl who would only eat corn and carrots would have succumb to such vegetable variety?
As a side note, in making this dish I couldn't help experiencing some high school nostalgia. One year I bought my best friend a realistic looking black plastic rat for Christmas. It even squeaked when you squeezed it. Why a plastic rat for Christmas? Well, she already had a rubber chicken. The rat grossed out many a teacher. Tres wonderful. We called him Ratatou-E the Rat-a-tat-tat. Good times.
edited to add: Today's post from In Praise of Leftovers talks about using leftover Ratatouille in Mac and Cheese. I'm so doing that the next time I have Ratatouille leftovers. Num!
Summer Ratatouille from In Praise of Leftovers
4 large red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, cut into large diced pieces
1 head garlic, peeled and separated into cloves
1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
2 lbs. tomatoes, roughly chopped or left whole if small
4 small or 2 medium green or golden zucchini
1/2 c. pitted Kalamata olives
lots of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 c. best quality olive oil
1 large bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped
Combine everything in your biggest roasting pan. Roast at 300F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, til mix is 1/2 the volume, liquid is evaporated, and veggies are all sticky and blackened in spots. Serve alone, atop polenta, tossed with pasta, or pressed between bread in a panini maker.