In December 2009, a dear friend and coworker passed away. I spent a great deal of time with her in the hospital in the months leading up to her death and learning not only a great deal about her and myself, but about living life joyously. This friend requested that we hold a celebration of her life after her passing and a couple months later, we did. She loved dainty, beautiful things so there were tea cakes and cookies, tarts, fresh fruit and colourful drinks. Friends, family and coworkers were invited to come eat, sing, dance and share how we’d been impacted by this amazing woman.
We loved this so much that we decided to celebrate her birthday (a bit belatedly) this year with a potluck. My boss hosted the party, and there were flowers, fancy dishes, tea and many toasts to a wonderful friend.
As my friend loved colourful, beautiful things, I made this ratatouille as well as a very fancy layered marble cake (this deserves a separate post, coming soon). I don’t know why I don’t make this ratatouille more often because it’s delicious and incredibly easy. No wonder there’s a movie about it! We had it served over rice, but it’s also great with couscous or on its own.
There was so much other yummy food at this party: vegetable pasta, perogies, maza, a lemon-shrimp dish (which I didn’t sample for vegetarian reasons but which smelled very good!), spinach salad and cookies and chocolate galore. This will definitely be a regular celebration!
Source: Smitten Kitchen
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 cup tomato puree or sauce (I used the latter)
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 small eggplant (my grocery store had Chinese eggplants which are about the size of a zucchini and worked perfectly. if you can’t find a small one, get a big on, cut it in quarters lengthwise, sliced it thinly, and throw the extra in a pasta sauce at a later date)
- 1 small zucchini
- 1 small summer (yellow) squash (being January in Canada, I couldn’t find one. It turned out wonderfully anyway.)
- 1 long red bell pepper
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme (or a couple teaspoons dried – again, it’s January in Canada)
- salt and pepper
- soft goat cheese for serving (I… forgot about this, but it’s a very good addition if you’re not going the vegan route)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Combine the tomato puree/sauce, onion, garlic and 1 tbsp olive oil at the bottom of an oval baking dish (I used a square one, as you can see. Use what you have – the only thing that will change is how you arrange things for baking.). Stir together and spread so the mixture is covering the bottom of the dish.
- Wash eggplant, zucchini, squash and red pepper. Trim the ends off the eggplant and squashes and remove the ends, core and seeds of the red pepper. Slice them VERY thinly.
- On top of the tomato mixture, arrange the vegetable slices in a circle inside the outer edge of the dish. Depending on the shape of your dish, add another circle or line of veggies in the middle. The veggies should overlap so only a small piece of each is visible. Alternate them (eggplant-zucchini-squash-red pepper, etc.).
- Drizzle the remaining tbsp of olive oil on the veggies and season generously with salt and pepper. Remove the sprigs of fresh thyme from the stem and sprinkle on top (or just sprinkle dried thyme, if that’s what you’re using).
- Cut out a piece of parchment paper the size of your dish and place it on top of the veggies inside the dish.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the veggies have released their liquid and you can see the tomato puree/sauce bubbling up.
- Serve over rice, couscous or on its own, with a spoonful of goat cheese on top. Enjoy!