Monday, August 27, 2012

Baked Ratatouille

Saturday mornings at the Omaha Farmer's Market mean fresh vegetables on my table on Saturday nights.  This week, I was able to find some excellent looking zucchini and yellow summer squash at one of the stalls.  Due to an overabundance of squash and the fact that the market was preparing to close, I was able to walk away with two zucchini and two yellow squash for a whopping $1.  With my good fortune, I decided to continue wandering around and see what other vegetables I could find in the waning moments before the market.

Two stalls down, I found the third vegetable which would feature in my side dish for that evening, a single eggplant.   I handed the farmer three quarters and I was on my way.  I only had a few minutes left before the market closed, so I hurried over to my favorite stalls for some fresh tomatoes and corn (I do live in Nebraska, after all), then grabbed a loaf of fresh bread and headed home.

At this point I was still a little unsure what I was going to do with my bounty, but already the thought forming in my mind was ratatouille.  I love the blending of the fresh vegetables in this classic dish, but I wanted to try a new take on it, so rather than stewing the vegetables, I decided to try baking them.  I wanted a simple preparation that could be put together quickly and then popped in the oven to finish while I prepared some Chicken with Mushrooms and Oven-Roasted Potatoes.  I put a little tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan, sliced up the zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant and layered them on top of the sauce, and popped it in the oven.  Fifteen minutes later, I threw a little cheese on top of it and popped it back in the oven for a couple minutes to melt the cheese.  It was so simple, but so delicious.

Baked Ratatouille

1/3 cup tomato and basil sauce
1 large zucchini
1 large summer squash
1 medium eggplant
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Slice zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant into 1/8-inch slices (I like to use a mandolin slicer for this).  Spread tomato sauce into bottom of 2-quart baking pan.  Arrange eggplant, zucchini, and squash over top of sauce, overlapping them so only a sliver of each slice is visible.  Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with cheese and return to oven for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted, bubbly, and lightly browned.  Serve immediately.

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