When I finally had eggplant, summer squash, and beautiful ripe tomatoes in my kitchen all at once, I knew straight away that ratatouille would be on the menu. I had a loaf of bread ready to go for toasting and dipping. What stew isn’t better with a nice, crusty piece of bread, right? My partner walked in the door while I was chopping up veggies, and immediately suggested that we turn it into vegan garlic bread. Um, yes. I can’t recall an instance in my entire life when I said no to garlic bread. So this ratatouille garlic bread was born!
I am just loving all of these easy summer meals. Right now Maryland tomatoes are at their peak deliciousness, so I’m satisfied with recipes that use gentle flavors and let the produce do the talking. Ratatouille is a simple French stew that pairs summer produce with a hint of basil, balsamic vinegar, and… well, that’s pretty much it! As such, for this dish in particular, make sure to choose vegetables that are very fresh. Okay, technically eggplant, squash, and tomato are all fruit. Let’s just call them ‘culinary vegetables’.
We used a relatively small amount of squash, Japanese eggplant, and added bell pepper (which is sometimes, but not always included). These tweaks were just to accommodate the situation in our fridge and pantry. My opinion is that the amounts are pretty flexible, just make sure there’s plenty of tomato. The juices releasing from the tomatoes turn into the broth, so you don’t want to leave those out. Some ratatouille recipes call for cooking different vegetables separately, and combining them later on. Sometimes you even have to put everything in the oven after first cooking it in the stove. I’m sure that’s delicious, but so is this humble, one-pot, stovetop version.
As for the ‘ratatouille garlic bread’ part, it wasn’t exactly science. We did the garlic bread in the toaster oven while the ratatouille stewed, and then once the bread was done, spooned the stew over the top. If you want to eat it this way then I’d suggest cutting everything a little smaller than what you see in the pictures. With these shapes, it kind of made a delicious mess. =] This stew would also be good with pasta, rice, etc.
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ large or 1 small/medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved (with their juices)
- 1 Japanese eggplant, chopped
- 2 yellow squash or zucchini, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- scant ¼ c. sliced fresh basil (plus more for garnish)
- 2 tb. balsamic vinegar (I used white balsamic)
- (optional) pinch of coconut sugar or regular sugar
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper, to taste
- small loaf of bread (whole wheat or multi-grain preferred)
- ½ head of garlic, minced (or less, to taste)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp. paprika
- other dried Italian herbs of choice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- olive oil
- Warm the olive oil in the bottom of a saucepan. Add the garlic and onions and sprinkle them with salt, and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, eggplant, squash, bell pepper, basil, vinegar, optional sugar, and red pepper flakes, and stir.
- Keep the heat at medium-low and cover the pot. Stir every few minutes and cook until the all of the vegetables have softened and cooked through, 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat an oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slice the bread in half lengthwise. Brush the cut sides generously with olive oil.
- Toss together the minced garlic and spices in a small bowl along with a little extra olive oil. Brush the mixture generously onto the cut sides of the bread.
- Toast in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the tops are crispy and browned.
- Make the ratatouille just as above, but chop the vegetables a little smaller. Cut the baked garlic bread into slices, spoon the ratatouille on top, and enjoy.
Sources consulted: The Guardian; Food Network.