Tragedy has struck the Phobicfoodie household.
The dishwasher is broken!
The can opener is broken.
This means that it will give out on me half way around the top of the can and force me to turn it upside down and start over on the bottom side. Oh my.
Anyways, all this is not enough to keep me out of the kitchen!
After seeing the amount of butter we used in Thanksgiving dinner, then going ahead and making that crazy rich turkey tetrazzini the next day anyways, I was feeling a little concerned about my arteries…
And about the five pounds I’m pretty sure I gained just by smelling the gravy…
And about my chin…
And the state of my love handles…
So I decided to try to cook a little healthier…
Which brings me to ratatouille gratin…a slightly fancier version of the traditional, rustic vegetable stew.
This ratatouille gratin may require a fair amount of slicing and prep work, but it is so rich and delicious and hearty and healthy it’s definitely worth it! Served with some good, crusty bread, this flavorful, tender, juicy veggie gratin can make a wonderful vegetarian meal…you could even leave the parmesan out and make it vegan. Or you can go the other direction and sear up some chicken for a little lean protein.
And believe me…it doesn’t taste good for you. It also doesn’t taste vegetarian. It tastes decadent. And sinful.
Start by making a simple tomato sauce. I started with a minced red onion. Let it sweat in a couple tablespoons of olive oil for a bit.
Meanwhile, open up a large can of tomatoes with your (sometimes working) can opener. I like to use whole tomatoes and mush them up with my hands. It give the sauce a rustic, chunky texture. Plus, it gives me a chance to play with my food…very theraputic! You could also use crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes or plain ol’ tomato sauce if you prefer not to muck around in your food with your hands.
Pour the tomatoes into the sauce pot with the onions and add some thyme and the minced garlic.
Let all this simmer while you prepare the vegetables!
Thinly slice a small eggplant
a medium zucchini
and a medium yellow squash.
Layer the slices on paper towels, sprinkling each layer generously with salt. Let the veggies sit for about 30 minutes to allow the salt to draw some of the liquid out.
Meanwhile, slice up a few tomatoes
(Mmm. Red food on a red cutting board. Food photography at its finest! Not.)
and a red bell pepper
and some basil into thin strips.
Next mix a cup of panko bread crumbs with ½ cup of grated parmesan, and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic. This is the gratin part!
Now it’s time to assemble! Pour the sauce into the bottom of a 9X13 casserole and spread out in an even layer.
Sprinkle half the basil on top, then layer on the squash,
(sorry for the garish circa 1970’s oversaturation and flat lighting here…it was a rough night for lighting in Phobicfoodie’s kitchen!)
eggplant and tomatoes. Then pour ½ c. dry white wine evenly over everything,
and sprinkle the rest of the basil over.
Finally, sprinkle on a thick layer of the breadcrumb mixture.
Cover the casserole with parchment paper
and bake at 350° for 1 ½ hours, removing the parchment for the last 20 minutes.
The finished gratin will be bubbly, golden brown, crispy topped and fabulous. And the aroma is out of this world!
Serve with delicious, warm bread and glasses of crisp, white wine.
Here’s the recipe!
Makes 8-10 servings
1 small onion, diced
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
8 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1 tsp. dried thyme, or 2 sprigs fresh
5 tbs. olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant, sliced into ¼” thick slices
1 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼” thick slices
1 medium yellow squash, sliced into ¼” thick slices
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into thin slices
3 medium, ripe tomatoes, sliced into ¼” thick slices
1/3 c. basil chiffonade
½ c. white wine
1 c. panko bread crumbs
½ c. grated parmesan
Salt and pepper
Begin by making a simple tomato sauce: in a medium pot sweat the diced red onion in 2 tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Crush the tomatoes and add to the pot with the thyme and ½ of the garlic. Stir and let simmer while you prepare everything else.
Preheat oven to 350°
Layer the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash slices in single layers between paper towels. Sprinkle each layer with salt to draw the excess liquid out. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.
Slice the red pepper, tomatoes and basil.
Mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan, and the remaining garlic and olive oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
Spread the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9”X13” glass casserole dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the basil. Pat the eggplant, squash and zucchini dry. Layer the vegetables in the casserole, ending with the sliced tomatoes. Pour the evenly over everything. Sprinkle the remaining basil over the top, then top with the breadcrumb mixture. Lay a piece of parchment paper over the casserole.
Bake for 1 ½ hours, removing the parchment for the final 20 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Eat and be happy!