Outdoor grilled ratatouille creates lovely summertime char

  • By MELISSA D’ARABIAN
  • Tuesday, June 6, 2017 4:56pm
  • LifeFood
This May 29, 2017 photo shows grilled ratatouille in Coronado, Calif. This dish is from a recipe by Melissa d’Arabian. (Melissa d’Arabian via AP)

This May 29, 2017 photo shows grilled ratatouille in Coronado, Calif. This dish is from a recipe by Melissa d’Arabian. (Melissa d’Arabian via AP)

Ratatouille is a classic vegetable dish starring eggplant, zucchini, peppers and tomato that is deeply steeped in the culture of Mediterranean France. When I married a man from the heart of Provence, one of the first lessons I received from my new mother-in-law Muriel was how to make a proper ratatouille. (The other was how to pluck feathers from a newly-butchered turkey, but that’s a story for another day.)

Turns out, my American sensibilities had me cooking a ratatouille far too long, making it a gloppy stew of indistinguishable mixed vegetables, a crime I’ve seen committed more often than not here in the US.

Muriel was kind in her rebuke, and showed me her way instead. The most important lesson was to cook each vegetable separately, to honor their individuality. Moreover, the vegetables needed to be cooked in the same pan, in a specific order, so that the flavors would be built just right. (The order, in case you are wondering, is: eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion, tomatoes, and I use the acronym EZ-POT to remember.)

I was skeptical. But her version is easily the best I have ever eaten, so I follow it without fail, even if the rebellious part of me wonders if I dared to cook the zucchini out of order, would anyone really notice? But, why mess with genius?

Unless it’s BBQ season and I want to grill out! After years of following proper EZ-POT protocol, I decided to try an outdoor grilled version of ratatouille. A little summertime char on the veggies could be a good thing. And indeed it was.

The result was a tasty dish that was somewhere in between a grilled vegetable salad (but not quite as acidic) and a traditional ratatouille (but not quite capturing that synergistic vegetable vibe). Still, a worthy summertime side dish in its own right.

Grilled ratatouille is a happy complement to any grilled meat or fish, and it’s hearty enough to be the main dish for vegetarians. And leftovers can be spooned on top of roasted potatoes, rice, a green salad, or even spread on toast, sprinkled with cheese and broiled for a quick lunch.

Grilled Ratatouille

Servings: 6

Start to finish: 30 minutes

2 small or 1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch slices (no need to peel)

2 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise

1 sweet yellow or red pepper, cut into “cheeks” or quarters, seeds, removed

1 medium sweet white onion, peeled, quartered with root intact (to keep it together)

1 pint grape tomatoes

Olive oil in mister

Dressing:

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons high quality olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

6-7 basil leaves, gently torn

salt and pepper

Heat the grill to medium and lightly oil the grates. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper, and spray them lightly with the olive oil mister to coat. (If you don’t have a mister, pour a little oil in your hands and lightly toss the vegetables in a bowl using your hands to coat them very lightly with olive oil.)

Cook the vegetables on the grill until tender but not floppy, turning halfway through cooking time — about 12-15 minutes total for the eggplant, onion quarters and sweet pepper, 8-10 minutes for the zucchini and 2 minutes for the tomatoes.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Whisk together lemon juice and red wine vinegar in a small bowl, and drizzle in the olive oil, whisking to make an emulsion. Add the thyme and salt and pepper to taste, and an additional tablespoon of water if needed to make more sauce.

As the vegetables are removed from the grill, chop the onion (the inside may not be fully cooked and that’s OK), and cut the rest of the veggies into nice-sized cubes, and place in a large bowl. The pepper skin will be charred and can be kept or removed.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables while still warm and toss gently. Add the fresh basil leaves to the vegetables, and stir. Adjust salt and pepper for seasoning and serve, hot, room temperature or chilled.

Nutrition information per serving: 126 calories; 49 calories from fat; 5 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 14 mg sodium; 19 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 4 g protein.

Online: http://www.melissadarabian.net

More in Life

This photo of Frenchy with a freshly killed black bear was taken on the Kenai Peninsula in the early 1900s. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)
Unraveling the story of Frenchy, Part 1

The stories were full of high adventure — whaling, mining, polar bear hunting, extensive travel, and the accumulation of wealth

File
Seeing God’s hand in this grand and glorious creation

The same God of creation is the God that made me and you with the same thoughtfulness of design, purpose and intention

Chewy and sweet the macaroons are done in 30 minutes flat. (Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Sophisticated, simplified

When macarons are too complicated, make these delicious, simple macaroons

Michael S. Lockett / capital city weekly
Gigi Monroe welcomes guests to Glitz at Centennial Hall, a major annual drag event celebrated every Pride Month, on June 18.
Packed houses, back to back: GLITZ a roaring success

Sold-out sets and heavy-hitting headliners

Michael Armstrong / Homer News 
Music lovers dance to Nervis Rex at the KBBI Concert on the Lawn on July 28, 2012, at Karen Hornaday Park in Homer.
Concert on the Lawn returns

COTL line up includes The English Bay Band, a group that played in 1980

Marcia and Mary Alice Grainge pose in 1980 with a pair of caribou antlers they found in 1972. The sisters dug the antlers from deep snow and detached them from a dead caribou. (Photo provided by Marcia Grainge King)
Fortune and misfortune on the Kenai — Part 2

In Kasilof, and on Kachemak Bay, in Seldovia and later in Unga, Petersen worked various jobs before being appointed deputy marshal in 1934

“Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement” was published in 2018 by Razorbill and Dutton, imprints of Penguin Random House LLC. (Image via amazon.com)
Off the Shelf: The power of personal voice

“A Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement” provides first-person accounts of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida

Most Read