Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sloppy Jacques (Ratatouille on Toasted Sourdough Bread)

For a cookbook style copy of this recipe for Sloppy Jacques (Ratatouille on Toasted Sourdough Bread), click HERE!

Low in fat and calories, high in nutrients, and wonderfully easy to make, ratatouille (“rah-tah-too-eee”) – the classic savory dish made from tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, onions, garlic and herbs – is ideal for anyone who cooks, from experienced chefs to novice home cooks, and all levels in between. It is also enormously versatile, served as a meal with pasta or rice; as a filling for omelets, crepes or stuffed potatoes; as a side dish; and any other way you can imagine.

This recipe highlights my favorite way to serve ratatouille, something I call “Sloppy Jacques” style: using the ratatouille to top two slices of sourdough bread that have been brushed with herbed olive oil and lightly toasted, and garnished the combination with crumbled goat cheese and a kiss of balsamic vinegar.  (Of course, if you want to serve it in some other way, go right ahead. One of the great beauties of ratatouille is finding new ways to use it!)

Aside from how it is served, another way in which ratatouille recipes vary widely is in how the vegetables are cooked. Some recipe have the raw vegetables all cooked in a pot together. Others have the ingredients layered and baked as a casserole. Another frequently employed method is to sauté each of the vegetables separately (or, at the very least, in carefully chosen combinations), and then simmered all together in a pot to finish. The Sloppy Jacques recipe that follows is based on that last one; I feel it gives the cook the most control over how much each vegetable is cooked, making it easier to avoid overcooking some and under-cooking others just to get the rest cooked right.

You’ll also note that this recipe adds celery and mushrooms to the more traditional ingredients. I just think they work well here, in terms of both texture and flavor.

This recipe makes 4 meal-size servings.

First, we'll make the rosemary olive oil:
Combine ¼ cup of olive oil and 1 /2 tsp dried rosemary in a small bowl and heat in a microwave till warm, about 30 seconds. Set aside until ready to use.

Next, the ratatouille!
Line a colander with paper towels.

Slice 1-1/4 pounds of yellow squash or zucchini into ¼” thick rounds. Put 1 Tbsp of olive oil into a pan over medium-high heat.

Add the squash in a single layer (work in batches if necessary) and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. When done, remove the squash from the pan and set aside in the colander.

Cut 2 green bell peppers and 1 red bell pepper into ½“ squares. Cut 2 stalks celery into ½“ slices.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and put in the green pepper, red pepper, and celery. Cook for about 4 minutes.

When done, add the peppers and celery to the squash in the colander.

Cut 1 pound of eggplant into ½“ cubes. Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and put in the eggplant. Cook for about 4 minutes. When done, add the eggplant to the colander.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and put in 12 ounces of sliced mushrooms; 2 sweet onions (Vidalia or similar) cut into ½” pieces, and 3 cloves of minced garlic. Cook for about 4 minutes. When done, reduce the heat to low, and transfer the vegetables from the colander back into the pan.

Add a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp dried basil, and 1 tsp dried parsley. Cook uncovered over low heat for 20 - 30 minutes until the vegetable are soft and cooked, but not mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve:
Brush eight slices of sourdough bread with the herbed olive oil and lightly toast.

Place two slices on each plate.

Top the bread with the ratatouille, Sloppy Joe style.

Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar.

Garnish with crumbled goat cheese, and serve warm or at room temperature.

For a cookbook style copy of this recipe for Sloppy Jacques (Ratatouille on Toasted Sourdough Bread), click HERE!

Hope you enjoy this version of a French classic!

Thanks for visiting. Come by again next week for another kitchen-tested, home-cook friendly recipe for your cooking and dining pleasure! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. This looks great! Though I would probably have it without the bread. The rosemary olive oil caught my attention too...

    1. Thanks, Sandy! You can do pretty much anything with ratatouille, one of the reasons I like it so much, so serving it without the bread works well too. It's a good side dish as is, and is great on top of many other things. (Perhaps drizzled with rosemary olive oil if you're not using the bread?)