Everyday Gourmet (9/10/09)

Ooey Gooey Ratatouille

Sept. 10, 2009

By Kim Dannies

The snap in the air inspired me to gather up some late summer vegetables and bake them with warm gooey cheeses. I did a twist on the traditional ratatouille by adding goat and Gruyère cheeses to a breadcrumb topped vegetarian gratin. The results warmed my bones yet kept the produce tasting fresh and summer-like.

This recipe makes a wonderful vegetarian meal for a large group or pairs beautifully with lamb kabobs. It can be prepped three days ahead; re-warmed leftovers are excellent over pasta.

Dice 1 medium onion. Cut into chunks 2 medium zucchini, 2 medium yellow squash and 1 medium eggplant.

Heat a large non-stick skillet and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the onion for 10 minutes, adding a pinch of kosher salt; add the zucchini and squash and brown for 5 minutes more. Pour sauté mixture into a large prep bowl. Heat 1 more tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the eggplant, turning often in the pan for 8 minutes. Season with pinches of kosher salt. Turn off the heat and add the cooked eggplant to the prep bowl.

To the prep bowl, gently fold in 4 minced garlic cloves; 2 tablespoons fresh thyme and oregano leaves, each; 2 cups chopped tomatoes, with skins and seeds and juices; and 1 cup of shredded Gruyère cheese. Adjust the seasoning by adding pinches of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

Pour the mixture into a large baking dish. Drizzle 4 ounces of V-8 juice over the gratin, and then crumble 6 ounces of goat cheese over the dish. Cover tightly with foil. Bake it immediately, or reserve up to 3 days. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

While the gratin bakes, split and lightly toast 2 whole wheat English muffins (they should still be somewhat soft). In a food processor, mince 2 garlic cloves with 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves. Add 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of cold butter, and the four muffin sections. Pulse gently until just combined.

At the 30-minute mark, pull the gratin, remove the foil top and sprinkle the surface with the breadcrumbs (or substitute with panko crumbs). Bake, uncovered, for another 20 minutes until crumbs are golden brown and the gratin is bubbling hot. Serves 10 to 12.


Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.