Why should summer have all the fun? There are many perfectly wonderful vegetables in spring that can be combined to make a beautiful rendition of ratatouille. This is one of those dishes where you go to the farmers’ market and you just look around to see what your ingredients will be. If it’s nearly eighty degrees and those yellow squash are calling your name, you should go for it. If you are still shivering under a sweater and you are grateful for the first sight of asparagus tips, you should go for those, instead.
It’s still pretty chilly here, so I used a combination of some local spring vegetables and some greenhouse grown summer favorites. However, the heat treatments in this recipe allow the natural essence of the vegetables to be brought forth. So if they’re not completely at their peak, it’s ok, because you’re maximizing all flavor potential. The warmth is officially on its way!
It’s one of those dishes that is versatile and can be baked with a layer of provolone when it’s still cold at night just to add a hint of delicious comfort. If and when it’s too hot to turn on the oven, I recommend you skip the baking process, of course. But that’s not yet. This version can be eaten with a whole wheat pasta or even put into a crusty roll for a ratatouille sandwich. You can also wrap up any remaining the next day for lunch with some crispy romaine and a dash of balsamic vinaigrette. It’s versatile and happens to be both vegetarian and low carb. Enjoy!
Baked Spring RatatouilleServes 4-6 Prep time: 15 minutes (of chopping vegetables) Total Cook Time: 40 minutes (including oven baking and cool time)
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1 1/2 cups diced spring onions
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 cups diced (small, firm) eggplant, skin on
- salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 cup diced red bell peppers
- 1 cup chopped asparagus tips
- 1 cup diced zucchini
- 1 cup diced yellow squash
- 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped ripe tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 cup freshly grated provolone
- 3 tablespoons parmigiana-reggiano, for garnish
- 1/4 cup sliced scallions, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray, with cooking spray, the bottom and sides of an oven safe casserole dish (1-2 quarts in size).
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add oil. Once oil sizzles and before it smokes, add spring onions. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and a pale golden color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add eggplant and thyme with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, asparagus, zucchini, and squash and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for a final 5 minutes.
- Stir well to blend, add additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired and then pour into prepared baking dish.
- Bake in preheated oven until cheese bubbles and turns a pale golden brown, about ten to fifteen minutes. Allow to set for five to ten minutes before serving. Plate and garnish with parmigiano-reggiano and chopped scallions or basil leaves if desired.