This month’s challenge from my friends at Melissa’s Produce was to come up with a recipe using some vegetables and fruit that came in my latest box and that would reflect Mardi Gras.
Luckily, there are many fabulous vegetables in season, which inspired me to create a delicious Creamy Rustic Ratatouille.
Growing up, we celebrated the last day before the beginning of Lent with a feast consisting of all the foods we could come up with. So here’s my contribution to your Fat Tuesday celebrations.
Of course, you can make it at any time of the year and it will always be a big hit, but that’s not important rigth now.
Creamy Rustic Ratatouille
- 3 large tomatoes
- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 small green zucchinis
- 2 yellow squash
- olive oil – 2 Tbsp. for cooking and 3 Tbsp. for baking
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced
- 1 box (10 oz) baby heirloom tomatoes, quartered
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp. Herbes de Provence
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- Ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. dried thyme
- 1 – 28 oz can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
- 8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- Prepare the sauce: preheat a large frying pan over medium heat and add olive oil – twice around the pan. When the olive oil is heated, add the diced red bell pepper, diced sweet onion, and minced garlic. (It’s like a sofrito, my people.)
- Saute the mixture for about 4-5 minutes or until onion is translucent and tender. Do not brown.
- Add the seasons: Herbs de Provence, smoked paprika, ground black pepper to taste, thyme, and salt.
- Add the quartered baby heirloom tomatoes, the crushed tomatoes, sugar, and the balsamic vinegar.
- Cook the sauce over low heat, simmering for about 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped basil and heavy cream. Stir it all together and remove from heat.
- Prepare the vegetables. Use a mandoline or a very sharp knifeto cut all the vegetables to the same thickness. Approximately 1/8 inch.
- Once they’re all sliced, layer them, alternating all 4 vegetables. Create small stacks for easy assembly.
- To assemble: first spread 3/4ths of the sauce into the bottom of a large oval or round casserole.
- Arrange the vegetables in the casserole in a ring around the edge. You can pack them tightly if you prefer. I like mine to cook softer, so I pack them a little looser.
- Start from the outside of the casserole and work your way in. Spoon the remaining sauce in between the vegetables and around the edges.
- For topping: combine a few tablespoons of olive oil with thyme. Use a pastry brush to brush the oil and thyme over vegetables.
- Cover the casserole dish with foil and place into preheated oven.
- Bake at 375° F for 50 minutes. Remove foil, add parmesan cheese and bake another 10 minutes uncovered. Or broil for a few minutes to get the cheese all bubbly and melty.
- Allow the dish to cool for about 15 to 20 minutes. The sauce will absorb beautifully into the vegetables and it will be ready for serving.
This is meant to be a side dish, but it’s hearty enough to be a meatless meal also. We served it with a freshly baked whole chicken and a warm French baguette.
Also, we picked up a King Cake at Porto’s Bakery because is it really Mardi Gras if you don’t have a King Cake?
“I will bless you… so that you will be a blessing.”
Thanks so much, Melissa’s Produce for the box and the challenge!
“Laissez les bons temps rouler!”
You might enjoy these Fat Tuesday recipes from my blogger friends: