I’ve done a more traditional Ratatouille in the past, but as summer’s bounty rolls in and I find myself with an abundance of sweet tomatoes, succulent peppers and tender eggplant, I couldn’t resist the urge to try something a little different.
This isn’t the French original, nor is it a Japanese dish, but the flavors and textures should be comfortingly familiar, no matter what part of the world you’re from. To cut back on the amount of oil used and to save a little labor, I oven roast the vegetables first, and then throw them in 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 the brief simmer gives the flavors a chance to meld.
The result is a marvelously rich mélange of vegetables, with creamy eggplant, velvety kabocha, and tomatoes and peppers that sing with flavor. The miso ties all these ingredients together with its earthy umami, and a hint of ginger and sesame oil adds accents that bring complexity to this simple summer stew.
While it’s delicious straight out of the pot, it gets even better with time. That’s why I’d recommend making it a day in advance and letting it rest overnight in the fridge before reheating and serving.
- 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
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.