If you'd be so kind as to indulge me in one more consecutive veggie post, I promise we'll get back to the meat next week. Usually multiple vegetable recipes would be a difficult thing to pull off in my meat-centric diet, but as spring starts to settle in, I find I have a somewhat short-lived love affair with fresh vegetables as a response to the winter thaw. It's not just that I want some vegetables here and there, I want them all, and I want them now. Making use of a lot of different veggies at once (well, one is fruit, if you want to get technical), this grilled ratatouille fulfills on those veggie cravings like nothing else.
Ratatouille is a traditional French Provencal dish that consists of tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash, bell peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs. While it's usually either sautéed or roasted, I never shy away from the challenge of bringing a dish to the grill. In this case, I figured it could make it even better—grilling only makes vegetables more delicious in my opinion thanks to the high heat that coaxes out even more sweetness and gives a flavorful bit of char.
Modifications are a requirement though when porting a dish like ratatouille to the grill. That means the final recipe will ultimately lose some of its traditional aspects, but that doesn't mean it has to depart from its origins altogether. Quite the opposite, I tried to give my ratatouille just about all the ingredients that would make it familiar, they were just put together in a different fashion.
Since the vegetables obviously had to be grilled on their own, I made sure the other components would be represented by turning them into a vinaigrette that included olive oil, white balsamic, garlic, basil, marjoram, and thyme.
Once I had that together, all the sliced veggies were brushed with a little oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and taken to the flames. My goal was give them all nice bit of browning and char, but have them retain some crispness so the dish wouldn't turn to mush when putting it together in the end. This required some high heat to ensure a good amount of caramelization while avoiding overcooking.
When I say I crave veggies, these are exactly what I'm talking about. Something about the simplicity of a grilled veggie always gets me. They have the essence of their natural flavor heightened by the heat, and this unlocks a strong desirability that I don't find when their in their raw state. I could have easily eaten all of these just the way they were, but then I'd be missing a chance to make them even better.
So I forged ahead, roughly dicing all the grilled eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, onions, and tomatoes. All these were then transferred to a large bowl and tossed with the herb and garlic vinaigrette.
This ratatouille was a symphony of spring with its mix of bright and sweet vegetable flavors along with the fresh herbs and little tang of vinegar. The sum was certainly greater than its parts, and when each of those parts started out so delicious in their own right, you can only imagine how much better it got when brought together. I guess you don't have to imagine though, you can go out and make this recipe and find out for yourself why even a devout meatacholic like myself would find this ratatouille so irresistible.
- Yield 4 to 6 servings as a side dish
- Prep 15 Minutes
- Cook 15 Minutes
- Total 30 Minutes
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 3 teaspoons freshly minced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh marjoram leaves
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 3 roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1 large zucchini, quartered lengthwise
- 1 large yellow squash, quartered lengthwise
- 1 medium globe eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch rounds and skewered horizontally
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and halved
- 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and halved
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, marjoram, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
- lace tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, onion, and bell peppers on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle remaining 1/4 cup oil over vegetables and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to thoroughly coat vegetables in oil and seasoning.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place vegetable slices on grill and cooked until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side for zucchini, squash, and eggplant, about 5 minutes per side for tomatoes, onion, and peppers. Transfer vegetables to cutting board and cut into large dice
- Transfer vegetables to a large bowl, pour in herb vinaigrette and toss to combine. Serve immediately while warm or at room temperature.