Monday, October 21, 2013

Baked Ratatouille

Harvest the best your garden has to offer, or select the most vigorous candidates in your farmer's market, to include the long thin ones, the rosy, round, plump ones, the pungent, layered alliums and the leafy, licorice flavored one which sophisticates the humdrum kitchen.  An easy baked version of ratatouille (rats are optional) simply slice, then layer the ingredients, sprinkle with salt and pepper and minced basil.  Top with strips of raw bacon whose juices will enrich the flavors of the whole.  Though going against the Italian grain, add a strong, grated cheddar cheese, an offense that should be embraced for the sake of flavor.  This recipe was one of Mom's before she knew to call it ratatouille, back in the day when it was just a zucchini casserole and a way to employ those monstrous squash that covered the kitchen counter.  Little did she know if would become chic and sophisticated!

Baked Ratatouille

4 medium zucchini squash, washed and stems removed
4 - 6 medium ripe tomatoes, washed and stem removed
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 pound bacon strips
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tab. finely minced fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

  • Generously butter an 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Slice squash and tomatoes into 3/4 inch thick slices. Separate onion slices into rings.
  • Layer zucchini slices on the bottom of the buttered baking dish to cover.  Lay tomatoes over zucchini slices.  Sprinkle the tomato layer with 1 tab. minced basil and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Layer onion rings over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle half the cheddar cheese over the onion layer.
  • Repeat layers one more time, ending with cheddar cheese. Lay the strips of bacon over the top of the assembled casserole. Cover with foil and bake in the oven until the zucchini is soft and easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes.  Remove the ratatouille from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Lift the foil at one corner of the pan and working with oven mitts, to hold the foil over the ingredients (I often use a large pot lid also to help hold the ingredients in place) drain the accumulated liquid from the ratatouille.
  • Heat the broiler to high and place the ratatouille under the heat until the bacon is crisped.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper. Serves 8 - 10.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! Thanks for checking out my ratatouille. Your version sounds great and easier than the one I've tried. I didn't think about putting cheese in ratatouille, might try that next time. :)