The most simple summer veggie recipe: ratatouille- an oven casserole with squash, zucchini, tomato and onion.
Hi, hello. All of a sudden it's summer! June flew by. I came home from Japan, we were packed with a fantastic but full work schedule for client food photography and recipe videos, some minor travel, a birthday... and here we are. But just because there hasn't been a recipe up, it doesn't mean we haven't been experimenting and eating. Summer is by far my favorite time to eat. Here in Virginia, when it's summer farmers market season, you go and you EAT. We definitely do not have a California growing season. So when it is summer, you can more or less add any ingredient together, plus herbs...usually some cheese, and you have a beautiful simple meal. That's where ratatouille comes in.
When you do end up going to a farmers market, or a road side stand, I find most people get stuck with what to do with the produce they end up buying (total impulse purchases). You had allllll these hypotheticals for recipes in your head as you swanned through the farmers market, and now that you're home you're one overwhelmed step away from eating leftovers.
While I can say just going through the trouble to cut up raw produce into different shapes and sizes does wonders for making fruits and vegetables delicious (eg cucumber rounds plus snap peas cut on a diagonal in a light dressing with mint > same sizes and same shapes), you are allowed to cook things. Ratatouille is a french stewed vegetable dish with seasonal produce, garlic and olive oil. I'm sure there are rules about ratatouille, but if there were any, I ignored them and this is what we make. Virginia ratatouille.
As someone who is not a card carrying member of the eggplant fan club, we generally do not consume eggplant at home. So our ratatouille is squash and zucchini, tomatoes, white onions, garlic and herbs. The big draw for many people with ratatouille, beyond using up the zucchini your neighbors dump on you, is the visual appeal. The swirling layers of color, like a rainbow scalloped potato dish, are stunning. And it's not too much work...if you have a mandolin.
Whenever I bring up the mandolin, I'd say I get about a 75% freak out rate. Someone has either lopped off an appendage or known someone who ended up in the emergency room. And to that I say, at least you won't get a paper-cut there anymore (look on the bright side?), but also, mandolins are safe as long as you give yourself plenty of work space and pay attention. You cannot share attention with anyone and the mandolin at the same time. It's a very one on one relationship.
The entire benefit of the mandolin is even thicknesses of product without stress. It's quick to finish the task. You can finish cutting everything for this ratatouille in under 5 minutes easily with this tool. As long as you are cautious. And as I show in this ratatouille recipe video...even gloves are not foolproof.
Side note here: what do we think about Instagram TV?
Here's a side by side before and after baking. You can see how important a specific thickness of produce is. And as for garnish rules...meh. There are none. I baked this with thyme on top, but garnished after with peppery fresh basil. You do you.
Easy Summer Ratatouille Bake
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
- 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced into half rounds
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 medium yellow squash, sliced into thin rounds
- 1/2 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- fresh thyme
- fresh basil
- to serve: baguette, burrata, if desired
- Slice tomatoes into rounds.
- Using a mandolin (preferred), or with concentration and a knife, slice zucchini and yellow squash to matching thicknesses.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a cast iron skillet, add an even layer of white onion to the bottom. Drizzle with olive oil and garlic. Stir/use hands to coat and combine.
- On top of the onion garlic layer, alternate layering zucchini and squash with the occasional tomato in concentric rings, starting on the outside and moving towards the center of the pan. Don't worry about perfect patterns, just use what feels right. My preference is about 3x the zucchini and squash to tomato or the ratatouille gets too watery.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Once the layers are created, add a few sprigs of fresh thyme to the center and cover the top with parchment paper.
- Bake in the oven for about 60 minutes or until produce is fork tender.
- Remove thyme, garnish with fresh basil or additional fresh thyme. Serve with burrata and baguette if desired.
Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.