This is the time of year that I always make a big batch of ratatouille to freeze for the winter. Grab some Roma or other paste tomatoes for this. You want a meaty tomato, not the delicate (and expensive) heirlooms as a base. I had green Italian peppers from the garden, but of course you can use red, orange, or yellow bell peppers. Leeks, fennel, artichokes, crookneck squash, shallots, hot peppers – all may be added or substituted. This is the summer garden’s kitchen sink stew.
If you’re doing a large batch, for this recipe may be multiplied to your heart’s content, roast each vegetable on separate baking sheets. I’ve layered up the finished veg above for the photo. You want to separate them so they’re not steaming in their own juice. The roasting idea is to concentrate the flavors while removing some of the excess moisture to bring out the natural sugars.
To freeze in jars, I place them uncovered in the freezer until frozen solid, then the tops are put on. The secret to freezing in jars is to only use wide-mouth canning jars. The rounded top jars crack.
- 12 Roma Tomatoes
- 2 onions
- 3 sweet bell peppers
- 2 eggplants
- 1 cucuzza squash or 3 zucchini
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 garlic cloves
- ½ bunch basil
- ½ bunch parsley
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Core and cut tomatoes into quarters. Peel onion and cut into eighths. Stem and remove seed from peppers and cut into eighths. Peel eggplants and cucuzza squash and cut into 2-inch cubes
- Spread vegetables evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper on top and mix to coat. Bake for 45 minutes until the edges of the onion are starting to brown.
- Place the remaining oil and garlic in a large pot and heat over medium-high heat. Stir the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the vegetables, basil, and parsley. Simmer for 15 minutes until the vegetables are softened and the tomatoes are starting to break apart. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
- Serve hot with a baguette, on top of pasta or rice, or as a side dish.
Last winter Lewis put this through a few pulses of the food processor, creating a finer tomato sauce for pasta. I loved it because the eggplant was indiscernible!
Summer is beginning to wane. I love the autumn, almost as much as Spring. A cold winter is predicted – I’ll be glad to have this summer delight at hand.