A little Sunday jaunt to the farmer’s market filled my basket with the makings for a lovely ratatouille… I had it in mind to try grilling all the veggies and tossing them together with some garlic and herbs instead of cooking on the stove.
Ratatouille is typically made with approximately equal parts peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and squash, cooked with some diced onion, garlic, olive oil, and basil/herbs. Easy to make, it’s one of my summer favorites, and is great served warm or room temperature, as a salad or side; fabulous with a chunk of good crusty bread. I’d never tried doing a grilled version before and I was certain it would be exceptional.
When I got home I got started on prep, which took all of 5 minutes: Popped a couple ears of corn into a bowl of water (after peeling off a layer or two of husks and removing the silk) to soak. Then I cut up a medium size globe eggplant into lengthwise eighths (like long wedges), quartered two bell peppers, and cut an onion into a few wedges, and drizzled them with a little oil, using my hands to spread the oil and make sure all the pieces were lightly coated. I’d bought about a pound of assorted heirloom tomatoes, and just cut them in half, and also lightly oiled. Lastly, I made a quick chop of two cloves of garlic (which I also could have roasted on the grill, but decided to chop and add raw) and a sprig or two of basil from the garden. Then outside to the gas grill, with veggies and cooking paraphernalia in hand,I cooked the tomatoes, onions, and peppers in a perforated grill pan, but the corn and eggplant were directly on the grill (corn loosely wrapped in foil with Thai basil leaves stuffed inside the husks). All in all, they were perfectly done, grill marks, tender, not mushy… within 20 minutes.I did the tomatoes last, cut side down, let them sizzle on the grill until getting a little crusty and browned, and then closed the lid for a minute or two to finish them off.
Bringing these goodies back into the kitchen I made a quick chop of them all, added the garlic, basil, plus some fresh thyme and oregano (just a little of these), salt, and pepper. That’s it. The picture above is everything before I mixed it together. It would be really pretty to present it this way, and then toss at the table before dishing out individual servings.
I lightly mixed it all together and served it with a simple rice dish (rice made with 1 cup basmati rice, 1-1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, 1/2 can garbanzo beans, and a little salt) to make a hearty, light meal. A little grated/shaved Asiago on top was absolutely perfect!
Grilled Ratatouille with Fresh Corn
Yield: 2-4 servings
1 medium globe eggplant or 2-3 Japanese eggplant
2-3 bell peppers (any colors)
3/4 pound ripe tomatoes
2-3 ears corn
10 basil leaves, chopped/torn in pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
little thyme and oregano (dried or fresh)
fresh ground pepper
Asiago cheese (optional)
Wash & Prep Vegetables for grilling: Pull back husks on corn and remove silk. Peel off outermost layers of husks, leaving about 2 tender layers, and pull those layers back up to cover the corn (if you like you can put some herbs inside the husks with the corn). If the corn is not same day picked, soak in water for 5-10 minutes (before adding herbs). Wrap corn in aluminum foil. Cut globe eggplant into approximately 8 long wedges, or quarter Japanese eggplant into long wedges. Put a little olive oil in your palms and lightly rub eggplant to coat with oil. Quarter peppers and remove stems and seeds. Peel and quarter onion. Cut tomatoes in half. Coat these veggies with a little olive oil too. Chop garlic and fresh herbs and keep handy in prep area.
Grill the Vegetables: Lightly oil a grill pan or rack for the cut up veggies. Arrange veggies on pan and set on hot grill. Corn and eggplant wedges can go directly on the grill. Turn corn and eggplant after about 5 minutes. When eggplant has grill marks on each side move to grill warming rack if still not soft to finish cooking. Closing lid helps to cook through. As done, remove items from grill. Then do tomatoes, placing cut side down on the grill pan. Close the lid and let cook for about 5 minutes. Remove (don’t overcook or they get way too mushy).
Scrape corn from cob into a shallow bowl using a sharp paring or chopping knife. Chop other veggies into large dice (as chunky as you like). Lightly mix all ingredients, including basil and garlic, in your serving bowl/dish. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with grated/shaved Asiago cheese and garnish with fresh basil leaves.