In this recipe, I have added slices of the various vegetables typically included in ratatouille, a Provençal French dish, to a pan in a circular arrangement and then topped it with breadcrumbs and cheese (a gratin) making for a simple and aesthetically pleasing side.
While taking the time to alternate the vegetables takes a little more time – it makes it look picture perfect. I use Chinese eggplants because they are thinner and longer, therefore more similar to the size of the zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes, which makes it easier to layer the vegetables.
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 medium Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
Kosher salt, to taste
3 medium Chinese eggplants, thinly sliced
2 large zucchini, thinly sliced
2 large summer squash, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup plain breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a small saucepot over medium-low heat, add the olive oil, half the thyme and the garlic. Cook until the garlic is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Strain the oil into a small bowl and discard the thyme and garlic.
In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the garlic thyme oil and heat through. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Arrange the sliced tomatoes on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Pat the tomatoes dry.
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Add the onions to the bottom of a 12-inch oval ceramic dish. Alternate the slices of eggplant, tomato, zucchini and summer squash in the ceramic dish in a spiral formation. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top.
Heat a medium non-stick sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Add the breadcrumbs and sauté, stirring constantly, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle over the top of the vegetables and top with the Parmesan cheese.
Bake until the top is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Serves 6, as a side.