Dealing with Zucchini ~ Grilled Ratatouille

Grilled Ratatouille

In gardens, piled high in grocery stores and farmer’s markets, appearing mysteriously on doorsteps, blocking out the sun and overtaking small mid-west towns… it’s zucchini season, and I couldn’t be happier!

Fresh zucchini recipesWe’re pulling some lovely zukes out of our own garden right now, as well!

I love the stuff! Diced into my salad, tossed, just-warmed, with pasta, or sauteed in the juices from a pan-seared steak.

It’s all good!

One of my favorites, though…is grilled ratatouille.

“Ratatouille doesn’t sound delicious. It sounds like “rat” and “patootie.” Rat-patootie, which does not sound delicious.” – Linguini

With all respect to Monsieur Linguini, while ratatouille may not sound delicious, it tastes awesome! This is one of my all-time favorite side dish recipes for grilled or rotisserie chicken.

Ratatouille (pronounced rat-eh-too-ee) is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. The full name of the dish is ratatouille niçoise.

There is much debate on how to make a traditional ratatouille. One method is to simply saute all of the vegetables together. Some cooks, including Julia Child, insist on a layering approach, where the aubergine and the courgettes are sautéed separately, while the tomatoes, onion, garlic and bell peppers are made into a sauce.

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American chef Thomas Keller Zucchini Day popularized a contemporary variation, confit byaldi, for the 2007 animated film Ratatouille. Ratatouille is a dish extremely popular with dieters. This is because not only is it low in fat and calories, but high in nutrients.

Personally, I think the most flavorful way or preparing ratatouille is on the grill, creating a deep smoky flavor while maintaining the integrity of very delicate veggies like squash and eggplant.

Here’s how we do it…

2 zucchini, cut into quarters lengthwise
2 eggplant, halved lengthwise
2 yellow squash, cut into quarters lengthwise
2 red onions, quartered
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered
2 yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

Heat the grill to medium-high.

Toss all veggies in a bowl with the 1/2 cup of olive oil, and coat well. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Grill veggies, cut side down for 5 to 6 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time. Remove the tomatoes, cover your grill, and cook the remaining vegetables for 2 more minutes, or until almost cooked through.

Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and coarsely chop (leave the tomatoes whole).

Put the chopped vegetables and tomatoes in a large bowl, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, oregano and parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve at room temperature, with toasted pita wedges and goat cheese.

Note: The leftovers, if you have any, are great the next morning over eggs scrambled with a little feta cheese!

If the weather isn’t conducive to firing up the grill, roast the vegetables in a 500° oven for 25 minutes instead of grilling them.

And, of course…there’s Remy’s way…

Enjoy those zukes!

-Chef Perry

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