This recipe is adapted from Laura Calder’s brilliant Lazy Ratatouille. I’ve taken her ingredients and methods and made it suitable for a plant-strong, oil-free diet. Ms. Calder is my hero and inspiration, so I hope I haven’t offended her with these modifications. I'll tell you, the meat-eaters in my family love this - they didn't believe it was vegan and fat-free.
Place the peppers on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil and slide it under the broiler to char the skins, turning every 3-5 minutes to get a good char on all sides. When the peppers are well charred, put them in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, and let sit 5 minutes; this will make it very easy to slide off the skins. Set the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Remove the skin, seeds and stem from the peppers, reserving any juice in the bowl. Dice the peppers in a ½ inch dice and place in a large bowl with the reserved juices.
In a separate bowl, mix the Bragg’s, Balsamic vinegar and Agave syrup in a 1 gallon plastic storage bag or a large bowl. Whisk to mix thoroughly. This is the vegetable marinade.
Cut the eggplant, squash, and zucchini in a ½ - ¾ inch dice and toss well in the marinade. Cut the onion into eights, add to the marinade and it all rest for at least 5 minutes.
Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet. This is to roast the vegetables.
Slice the tomatoes in half horizontally and use the tip of your knife to remove most of the seeds. Place the tomatoes cut side up on one end of the baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little salt and some pepper. Push the peeled garlic cloves into the seed cavities of the tomatoes to keep them from burning. Tuck the rosemary between the tomatoes.
Spread the eggplant/zucchini/squash/onion mixture over rest the sheet pan. Slide the pan into the oven and roast for 30 minutes, turning the vegetables (not the tomatoes) with a spatula at the halfway mark. Drizzle with the remaining marinade if they look dry.
After 30 minutes, put the eggplant/squash/zucchini/ onions in the bowl with the peppers. Put the tomatoes, garlic and the bay leaf into a saucepan over medium heat. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon and remove the skins (they should slide right off). Mash the garlic into the juice. When the tomato juices have reduced, mix thoroughly with the other vegetables. Chiffonade the basil and mix in the ratatouille. Add salt and/or pepper to taste.
Serve over whole wheat pasta, couscous, or quinoa. As an appetizer, serve on toasted slices of French bread or other bread of choice. Serves 4 as an entrée or 8 as an appetizer.
Note: I used Japanese eggplant as that is what I was growing on my deck. If you use a standard ‘pear-shaped’ eggplant, they can be a little bitter. To remove the bitterness, slice into 3/4 inch slices, place on a wire rack over a sheet pan, sprinkle with a good amount of salt, and let rest for 30 minutes. Then rinse with water, dry on tea towels or paper towels, and dice for the recipe.