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Ersatz Ratatouille: Roasted Vegetable Salad

Mariel here. Two weeks ago, my mother posted an amazing recipe for Summer Ratatouille, a meal I’ve loved since I was a little kid. While I enjoyed every second of helping her recreate – and later demolish – this recipe in our family kitchen over Memorial Day, I realized quickly it wouldn’t be easy to replicate this dish in my own mini Manhattan kitchen.

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to create a similar version that doesn’t require as many pans, counters, utensils or ingredients. Not an easy task, but I think I’ve finally found an NYC-friendly answer to my mom’s full-scale Ratatouille. While not a formal Ratatouille, this Roasted Veggie “Salad” conjures up some of the same flavors and satisfies some of the same cravings for a savory/sweet vegetable dish. I even followed many of her Ratatouille techniques – look at that, I’m learning. If you’ve got anything to add or any suggestions to make, I’m all ears!

Ersatz Ratatouille: Roasted Vegetable Salad
Serves 3-4 entree size portions

Note: I haven’t yet tried this over orzo, but I have a feeling it would be fantastic. I do know it’s great with plain couscous.

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4 round slices (unpeeled): $1.19
8 mini-sweet orange peppers (or 4 orange bell peppers): $3.58
2 large yellow zucchini (green zucchini will do too): $1.75
1 cup fresh mozzarella – $6.99
1/2 cup Goya canned chickpeas – $1.19
1/2 tsp dried oregano – stock
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes – stock
1/2 tsp garlic powder – stock
Salt & pepper – stock
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar – stock
1/4 cup olive oil, divided – stock
1.5 tsps of Dijon mustard – stock
2 tsps of brown sugar – stock
Grand total assuming “stocked” kitchen: $14.70
Cost per serving: $3.68

1. Cut the unpeeled eggplant into 1/4 inch round slices. “Sweat” the eggplant by salting both sides of the slices and then placing them on top of paper towels. Let stand for around 20 minutes then blot dry with fresh paper towels.

2. While the eggplant is sweating, combine the balsamic vinegar, one half of the olive oil (so about 1/8th of a cup), brown sugar, black pepper and Dijon mustard in a small, sealable container. Close and shake vigorously. Set the dressing aside.

3. Next, turn on the broiler and then brush the whole orange peppers (either bell or mini-sweet) with olive oil. Place oiled peppers onto tinfoil and pop into the broiler turning consistently until all sides have a crisp, charred skin. This takes about 15 minutes total depending on your broiler.

4. Once the peppers are charred, place in a brown paper bag and allow to cool.

5. In a large saute pan, heat the other half of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cut the yellow zucchini into 1/4-inch round slices (not paper thin). Once the oil is hot, pop the zucchini into the oil and add the garlic powder, oregano, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Hold off on using any salt quite yet. Brown the zucchini evenly on both sides over medium-high heat – it should be a good golden to medium-brown color.

5. Once the zucchini is browned, reduce the heat to low and add the drained and rinsed chickpeas, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Then set aside.

6. After the eggplant is done sweating, brush each slice with olive oil then broil until golden brown on each side. This takes about 5 minutes on each side, 10 minutes total. But keep checking, broilers can be tricky… Set aside once done broiling.

7. Take the orange peppers out of the paper bag, remove charred skins, de-seed and cut into sizeable chunks.

8. In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, zucchini/chickpeas, roasted peppers and mozzarella. Toss with a few tablespoons of the balsamic dressing and salt & pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temp.