Quick and Easy Ratatouille Bake

6
Quick and Easy Ratatouille Bake

Meal: Lunch, Dinner 
Dietary Type: Vegetarian, Vegan
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 40-45 min
Serves: 2-3 portions



The Dish

Ratatouille, a classic French dish of tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, summer squash, onion, garlic, and herbs, showcases how a few simple ingredients (and healthy ones at that!) can easily transform into a hearty and comforting meal. The traditional technique for preparing ratatouille involves cooking all of the vegetables separately and then combining them over slow heat. This approach results in a tender, smooth stew, but if you’re looking for a lighter, more modern version of the dish, there is a way to achieve the same great flavors with less time and effort.

Related: Foods To Help Lower Cholesterol Naturally

This Quick and Easy Ratatouille Bake skips the step of cooking your ingredients individually, and instead applies high heat to uniformly-sliced vegetables, which become tender and smoky in the oven. This recipe uses eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers, but you can add or swap in onions, yellow squash, tomatoes, or your favorite herbs. Freshly chopped rosemary or thyme will make the dish more rustic and wintery, but a sprinkling of parsley or basil, as used here, adds a bright freshness to the roasted vegetables, making it more suitable for spring or summer. 

The other bonus of cooking these vegetables more quickly than the traditional version is that they retain more of their benefits. With a colorful range of green, purple, yellow, and red, this dish is loaded with nutrients and fiber. Moreover, it’s low calorie and virtually fat and sugar free (with just a bit of good fat from the olive oil). For a well-rounded meal that ticks all of the food groups, serve this dish with a side of brown rice or a slice of whole grain bread, and for protein you could incorporate shredded mozzarella or grated parmesan (or a non-dairy alternative like nutritional yeast!) over the dish. 

A worthwhile read: How to fix a damaged metabolism after dieting

Use this recipe as a guide, adapting it to your taste, using your favorite ingredients and what looks good at the market. The most important thing is that you cut your vegetables roughly the same size, so they layer easily and cook evenly. If your slices of eggplant are much larger than your zucchini, simply halve or quarter the eggplant slices. The same goes for your bell peppers; if they are very large, you may need to cut the rounds in half. And remember, this is a rustic, country-style dish, so the layering does not need to be perfect – just tuck your veggies in so the baking tray is packed full, and the result will be beautiful, wholesome, and full of flavor.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons (~44ml) olive oil, plus more to grease baking dish
1 eggplant, sliced 1/4-inch (~6 mm) thick
1 large zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch (~6 mm) thick
1 large red bell pepper, sliced 1/4-inch thick (~6 mm), seeds removed
1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced 1/4-inch (~6 mm) thick, seeds removed
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/4 teaspoon (2.3g) pepper
1 15-ounce (425g) can tomato sauce 
Basil, to garnish

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400ºF/205ºC. 

  • Grease a deep baking dish with olive oil.
  • In rows, layer eggplant, zucchini, and pepper rounds, repeating until dish is packed full.
  • Drizzle evenly with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and add salt and pepper.
  • Pour tomato sauce over vegetables, and using a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon, distribute sauce evenly, letting the sauce fall into the crevices of the vegetables.
  • Top sauce with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Transfer to oven and bake until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown (~40-45 minutes).
  • Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.

Pro Tip: Dish makes great leftovers. Allow to cool, then cover and store in the refrigerator up to 3 days.