I did a more traditional Ratatouille in the past, but the generosity of the summer rolls and I end up with an abundance of tomatoes, sweet peppers succulent and tender eggplant, I could not resist the urge to try something a little different.
This is not to the French original or a Japanese dish, but the flavors and textures should be familiar, comforting, no matter what part of the world you come from. To reduce the amount of oil used and save a little work, I roast the vegetables from the oven first, then throw them into a pot to simmer in a sweet miso and ginger sauce. The time in the oven brings out the sweetness and umami in each vegetable through the Maillard reaction, and simmer briefly gives the flavors a chance to merge.
The result is a wonderfully rich blend of vegetables, creamy and velvety eggplant and kabocha tomatoes and peppers that sing with flavor. The links Miso all these ingredients together with its earthy umami, and a hint of ginger and sesame oil adds accents that bring the complexity of this simple summer stew.
While it is delicious straight out of the pot, it gets better with time. That’s why I recommend you do one day in advance and let stand overnight in the refrigerator before reheating and serving.
Japanese Ratatouille Recipe
- 6 ounces Japanese eggplant (~2 eggplants), cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 9.9 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 6 ounces kabocha pumpkin (~1/8 pumpkin), cut into 1/4-inch wedges
- 6 ounces red bell pepper (~1 pepper), cut into triangles
- 6 ounces onion (~1 small onion), cut into 1/4″ slices
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup sake
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons miso
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Toss the eggplant with the olive oil until well saturated.
- Add the cherry tomatoes, kabocha, bell peppers, and onions. Toss to coat evenly with oil.
- Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and toss to distribute evenly.
- Spread the vegetables onto a sheet pan and roast for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and give the vegetables a stir.
- Return the pan to the oven and roast until the vegetables are cooked through and starting to caramelize (about another 10-15 minutes).
- Whisk together the sake, water, miso, tomato paste, sugar, ginger and sesame oil in a saute pan.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and then add the vegetables. Stir to coat evenly. Turn down the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and then cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid and turn up the heat allowing the extra moisture to burn off so that you have a thick sauce.
- Serve with rice or pasta.
Yield: 4 as a side, 2 as a main