I love making Ratatouille in the Summer when the Tomatoes are ripe. Today, I had my very first harvest of Plum Tomatoes and I was very excited. I was previously gifted with a lot of Zucchini and I almost always have an Eggplant in the fridge too, so it was time to make it! I think having ripe Tomatoes makes a huge difference as they are much sweeter.
Usually, Ratatouille requires the top sauce the vegetables separately before putting it together to cook in a sauce. But this time I did something different! I decided to roast all the vegetables before putting them together. I used 3 different sheet pans - one small one for the Eggplant and another small one for the Tomatoes and one big one for the Zucchini, Red Onion and Red Pepper. I used Parchment to keep anything from sticking. Then I put them all in the oven after tossing them with Olive Oil and Salt and scooped whatever vegetable was done at 20, 30 and 40 minutes increments. When they were all done, I tossed them all together and added in some cooked Ventreche, which is the French version of Pancetta that I crisped in a frying pan while the vegetables were roasting. But you can leave it out if you are a Vegetarian. I like the extra saltiness and chewy texture it adds. This version of Ratatouille was so easy and so good that I'm going to make it this way from now on!
Roasted Ratatouille with Ventracche or Pancetta
1 medium Eggplant, ends cut off and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon Salt for the Eggplant
2 small or 1 medium Zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Red Bell Pepper, stem cut off, seeds and membranes removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 large Red Onion, diced
4 Roma Tomatoes cut into a dice
2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
Sprinkling of Black Pepper
1 cup of cubed Ventrache or Pancetta
Place the Eggplant into a bowl and salt it. Leave while you cut the other vegetables.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line two 1/4 sheet pans and one 1/2 sheet pan with Parchment. Or use two 1/2 Sheet Pans but keep the Tomatoes and Eggplant separate
Rinse the Eggplant pieces and put the pieces onto one of the 1/4 sheet pans. Drizzle with 4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil and a little Salt and Pepper.
Then put the Tomato on the other 1/4 sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil. Sprinkle with a little Salt and Pepper
Then put the Zucchini, Red Pepper and Onions on the 1/2 sheet pan separated a little and drizzle with the remaining Oil and sprinkle with the remaining Salt and a little Pepper.
Place all the sheet pans in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes before checking.
In the meantime, cook the Ventrache or Pancetta in a small frying pan on the stove, rendering the fat and making it a little crisp. Drain on a paper towel lined plate.
Remove the Onion pieces if the edges are starting to brown and place in a bowl. Cook the remaining vegetables for an additional 10 minutes and remove the Zucchini and place in the bowl. Cook for an additional 10 minutes and remove the Red Pepper and Tomato and put into the bowl. Cook for 5 more minutes and remove the Eggplant and add to the bowl. Add the Ventrache (or Pancetta) and toss to coat. Serve warm or cool.
Five Element Analysis
Eggplant and Ventrache (or Pancetta) both belong to the Water Element. The Olive Oil contributes the Wood Element and the Tomatoes and Red Pepper makes sure that the Fire Element is present as well. The Zucchini brings in the Earth Element and the Onions round out the Elements by adding Metal. To me, this is the perfect light Summer meal and it's balanced too!