For this weeks holiday meal I thought we would take a trip down to the Mediterranean. Ratatouille is one of those dishes that sounds so impressive and arrogant, but in reality it’s one of the easiest dishes to make. This is a dish where the veggies you use really shine and develop so much flavour as you cook it. This is a great meal to make during a Sunday evening when you have some extra time on your hands or even for a twist on your classic holiday dinner. It’s great to serve next to rice or pasta, but today I thought we’d go the extra mile by making some polenta. Polenta requires a lot of butter and milk, but today I’ll show you how to get the same creaminess you expect from polenta all while keeping it vegan.
A secret that my mom uses when making polenta is that she uses some corn grits to add a bite to her polenta. I think that polenta should be creamy and smooth, but the addition of grits is different and it adds some nice texture to the dish. I highly recommend giving it a try even though your Italian ancestors might be turning in their grave.
This recipe is simple, but it does require some time to cook so be sure to give yourself some time to make it. I hope you enjoy my twist on this classic and let’s get started!
Ratatouille With Creamy PolentaPrint Recipe
- For the ratatouille:
- 1 sliced eggplant
- A tablespoon of salt
- 1 sliced zucchini
- A handful of sliced button mushrooms (5-6)
- 1 slice roma tomato
- 1/2 of a chopped red onion
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 cup of tomato sauce (I used marinara)
- 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon of herb de provence
- Olive oil
- For the polenta:
- 3/4 corn meal
- 1/4 cup of corn grits
- 2 cups of vegetable stock
- 3 cups of non dairy milk
- 2 tablespoons of vegan butter
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of pepper
- 2 teaspoons of vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast
An hour before cooking, the first thing you need to do is take your sliced eggplant and put it in a bowl of salted water. Add in about a heaping tablespoon of salt to the water. Let the eggplant sit in the salted water for at least an hour, this will take away any of the bitterness. Make sure every slice of eggplant is submerged in the water if not you might need to use a bowl or plate to hold down the eggplant.
While your eggplant is soaking in the water use this time to prep your vegetables. Slice your zucchini mushrooms and tomato and try to cut them as thin as possible. You want all your vegetables to be around the same size because you want them to take the same amount of time to cook.
Once your eggplant has finished soaking drain out the salted water and give your eggplant a quick rinse under some cold water. In a large pan on medium heat drizzle in some olive oil and add your eggplant to cook evenly on each side. It will take roughly around 3 minutes on each side. You don't need the eggplant to cook all the way, but you do want it to soften slightly so it cooks all the way through in the oven. After all your eggplant has slightly cooked through turn off the heat and it is now time to assemble your ratatouille.
In a large baking dish drizzle in some olive oil and add in about a 1/4 cup of tomato sauce. I use a jarred marinara sauce but you can use crushed tomatoes, whatever you like. At this time add in your two cloves of chopped garlic as well as your chopped red onion. Add in about 1/2 a teaspoon of fresh thyme, a pinch of salt, and give this a good stir.
Start to layer in your vegetables I like to alternate between the zucchini, eggplant, tomato, and mushrooms and try to spread them out as evenly as possible so they all cook evenly in the oven. Once you have 1 layer of your vegetables done drizzle in some oil, a pinch of salt, some more fresh thyme, tomato sauce, and a good pinch of herb de provence. Repeat this step again by layering on another layer of vegetables, seasoning them, and drizzling on some oil and more sauce.
Once you have used up all your vegetables cover your baking dish with aluminum foil and put this in the oven at 350°. Let the ratatouille cook with the aluminum foil on it for at least an hour to an hour and a half and during the last half hour of cooking take off the aluminum foil.
Once all your vegetables have cooked down, take your ratatouille out of the oven and let it sit for at least half an hour.
In a large pot add in 1 cup of vegetable stock in 3 cups of nondairy milk. Let this come to a boil on medium heat and once bubbles start to appear add in your cornmeal and corn grits. Turn down the heat.
With a whisk, keep stirring the mixture and a creamy polenta should start to form. After 5 to 10 minutes you will see that the polenta gets very thick, so at this time add in more vegetable stock.
The polenta should take about 15 to 20 minutes in total to cook and at the end add in your butter, salt, and pepper. I decided to add some vegan parmesan cheese but you can also use nutritional yeast.
In a shallow serving bowl, add in a ladle of your polenta and serve a generous helping of ratatouille.
You can omit the corn grits and just use corn meal.