Ratatouille Tastes Better Grilled

The classic late summer recipe from Southern France is a stewed mélange of zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions, so famous Disney made a move titled Ratatouille. It is usually cooked in a deep saute pan or stew pot, but it is sooooo much better on the grill. And served on a bed of pasta.

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ratatouille

You will never make ratatouille the old way again! When you grill the veggies, you get not only the grill flavor, you also concentrate the natural flavors of the vegetables, and bring out their sweetness. By cooking them separately, rather than in a big stew pot, you also retain their individual flavors. Have you noticed the cans of fire roasted tomatoes in the grocery store and how much they cost? They are so easy to make at home on the grill! We laugh in your face, Campbells! I like to serve this grilled ratatouille over pasta, but you could serve with couscous or rice. No rats were harmed in the making of this dish.

Course. Entree. Dinner.

Cuisine. French.

Makes. 4 servings

Takes. Prep 15 minutes, cooking about 20 minutes

Special tools. 12" grill-safe skillet (preferably cast-iron)

Ingredients

1 pound eggplant

1 pound zucchini or yellow squash

1 large onion

1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, or a mix

1 pound meaty tomatoes tomatoes like Roma or San Marzano

Morton’s kosher salt

6 tablespoons inexpensive olive oil

2 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons fresh oregano (1 teaspoon dried)

2 teaspoons fresh thyme (1 teaspoon dried)

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper

Cooked pasta for four (I like farfalle)

Optional garnishes

Fresh basil, oregano, chives, and/or thyme

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Method

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1) Prep. With a potato peeler, remove some but not all of the eggplant skin. Give it pinstripes. Then cut it crosswise into 1/2” thick discs. Cut the zucchini into discs. Cut the bell pepper in half and remove the seeds and stems. Cut the stem end off the tomatoes and then slice the tomatoes in half from top to bottom. Peel the onion, cut off the stem and top end of the onion, peel it, and cut it in half across the equator. Dump them into a large pan or mixing bowl, sprinkle with salt and about 4 tablespoons olive oil (save the other 2 tablespoons) and mix. Try to get a very light coat of oil on the surface of the eggplant.

2) Cook the pasta. Start cooking the pasta.

3) Fire up. Heat your grill to high. 

4) Cook. Grill the veggies over high heat until they get a little color on both sides, but don’t cook til they turn to mush. Leave a little crunch. As they finish, you can snatch the skins off the tomatoes: they should come off easily. Put the tomato skins in a bowl. Taste and salt to taste.

5) Chop. Remove the rest of the veggies and chop them into bite size chunks. Taste and salt to taste.

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6) Make the sauce. Mince or press the garlic. Place a skillet over direct heat on the grill or on a burner, and pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt and cook only for about a minute, enough to tame the garlic’s rawness. Add the tomatoes and smush them with a potato smasher or ladle. Cook until they thicken a bit, perhaps 5 minutes. Pour back into a bowl. (And I know some people think one should not cook tomatoes in cast iron. Bunk. If the pan is well seasoned, you are fine).

7) Finish. Drain the pasta and toss it into the hot frying pan to warm it. Top it with the smashed tomatoes. Now add the rest of the veggies and liquid, stir, and if it has cooled off, warm the pan, lid on, over medium heat.

8) Serve. Garnish and serve.

"I have met a lot of top chefs around the world during my travels. Each one of them has said 'Ratatouille' is their favorite movie and the only movie that truly captures what they do."John Lasseter, Director

Meathead Goldwyn

Meathead is the founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, and is also known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", a New York Times Best Seller and named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.

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