An easy oven-roasted and harissa spiced ratatouille served with cauliflower couscous.
Now is the time to make ratatouille, that in-between period when summer is winding down and fall is just around the corner. Although Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer we do technically have a couple more weeks left and I’m not in a rush to bid summer goodbye quite yet.
So these last days of summer and first days of fall, while tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and peppers are still plentiful, I’ll be making ratatouille.
My ratatouille is admittedly unconventional, it’s a mainly hand-off affair made in the oven with a bit of a spicy kick instead of the usual herbs.
I start with most of the usual suspects: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and zucchini, but instead of cooking them on the stove-top I let the oven do all the work for me. Roasting the vegetables brings out their natural sweetness and intensifies their flavor. Instead of traditional thyme and bay leaves I add harissa paste for a spicy North African twist; the red chili pepper and sun-dried tomato paste is bright, bold and a wonderful compliment to the roasted vegetables.
What you end up with are vegetables that are shrunken and softened and infused with lots of garlic, olive oil and spice. The eggplant is smooth and silky, the tomatoes sweet and juicy, the zucchini tender and creamy and the peppers soft and slightly charred at the edges.
You can serve it hot or cold and the flavors only improve with an overnight stint in the fridge. I like to serve it with cauliflower couscous but you can also eat it by itself. The cauliflower couscous comes together in a flash and cooks right in the oven as well so it’s really quite easy to make. You just chop a head of cauliflower in the food processor, toss it with some oil and spices then spread it out onto a sheet pan and pop it in the oven alongside the vegetables until golden and nutty.
Hearty and healthy and filled with vegetables, the whole dish comes together in less than an hour, making this a great weeknight option.
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