For years I was like “ratatouille? I LITERALLY cannot think of anything worse”.
And I couldn’t. Massive chunks of undercooked zucchini in a napoli sauce sounded like a fucking nightmare and I wasn’t having a bar of it. Just no.
I remember being maybe swayed when I saw someone roast the lot in a rich tomatoey sauce instead of boiling it all up in a saucepan like all the terrible vegetarian pasta sauces the world over, and given that I really love roasted tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, onion, AND capsicum, I was willing to perhaps one day give it a shot.
Of course, when I did it, it was fantastic. Add copious amounts of balsamic and look, you may not call it a ratatouille but I call it delicious, frugal, and easy and they’re about my three favourite words when it comes to feeding my family.
So how do you make this gooey roasted delight nestled on top of gooey cheesy polenta (another thing I was like “wtf is this tasteless glue bullshit)? Oh, friends – ALLOW ME.
Oven-Baked Ratatouille with Super-Cheesy Polenta
Serves 2, so double it for leftovers or if your kids will actually eat it (lucky you!)
Ingredients for the ratatouille:
- 1 large eggplant, sliced into strips
- 1 large red onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 medium red capsicum, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 4-5 juicy red, ripe tomatoes or a 440g tin of good-quality whole peeled tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
- a pinch of sugar
- a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried
Ingredients for the cheesy polenta
- 125g polenta
- 2 cups/500ml water
- 1 cup/250ml milk
- 50g salted butter
- 125g of your favourite sharp cheese
- 50g parmesan-style cheese
- 50g butter (look, go more, I would)
- flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Directions for the ratatouille
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- In a large baking dish, mix all the ratatouille ingredients quite thoroughly
- Roast in the oven for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally until soft and melty
- Check for seasoning
- Serve on cheesy polenta with a sprinkle of your favourite cheese, fresh basil, and a good crack of black pepper over
Directions for the polenta
- Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan and add a pinch of salt
- Pour in the polenta and milk and give it a good stir – I start with a whisk and end up with a rubber spatula
- Reduce heat to a simmer and allow the polenta to absorb all the liquid. It’s going to take 35-45 minutes and should be soft and creamy, with no grittiness left. Stir from time to time and make sure you scrape the bottom so it doesn’t burn
- When it’s creamy and ready to go, add the grated cheese, butter, and seasonings. Stir until cheese is melted and taste – you may need to add more cheese or salt. Or both.
- Serve with ratatouille and a bit more cheese + pepper on top with basil