This week’s Home Bistro recipe is light on the carbs and rich in vegetables. It’s a real blending of French and Italian cuisines. Are you eating Ratatouille or Lasagna without the pasta? This one dish wonder can be a family dinner, or work as a wholesome side. The best part? Leftovers are great for lunches, as it reheats well.
Chef Cynthia on ‘Vegetouille’
Vegetouille, as I’m naming it, utilizes some of our local winter vegetables and augments it with fresh food shop finds. The two sauces offer both a savoury and creamy backgrounds, with the vegetables standing out as the star attraction. For a vegan option, you can substitute with plant-based cheeses or omit the cheeses all together, but overall, “cheese” does give the dish an extra dimension. For this version, I’ve used our local Black River mozzarella.
As for the vegetables, you can switch out peppers for eggplant. Hot peppers are also a nice addition (I would throw in a few when you are caramelizing the onions). I prefer the butternut squash because you can use the top half and get nice circles. (I roast the bottom half during the Vegetouille baking time and use it to make soup afterwards.) Caramelizing the vegetables before assembly, deepens the flavours of the dish and allows the natural sugars to shine through.
Stay tuned for next week’s crispy crunch dish! And remember, I’m here via text if you have any questions!
Cheers, From the Farm
(Serves 6 to 8)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves finely minced
- 1 cup tomato, diced
- 1 cup tomato puree
- ¼ cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (or olive oil)
- ¼ cup flour
- 2½ cups milk (or unsweetened almond milk)
- pinch of pepper and sea salt
- 1 medium eggplant or 3 large bell peppers, sliced
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled & sliced (24 -30 slices)
- 1 large zucchini or 2 medium, sliced
- 1 medium white or red onion, sliced
- ¼ cup sunflower oil
- sea salt
- black pepper
- 1 cup mozzarella, shredded
- 2 cups parmesan, grated
- Preheat oven to 375F
Make your sauces first.
For your Tomato Sauce, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium low and add your onion and sauté for 5 minutes, add garlic. Cook for a further minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to boil, then lower to a simmer. Let it cook and reduce while you continue to prepare the rest of the dish. If it gets too thick, add a bit of water.
The White Sauce is similar to a French bechamel. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter then add the flour. Cook for a minute or so, always stirring. Using a whisk, slowly add in the milk, a bit at a time. Using a wooden spoon, keep stirring till it starts to thicken, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the element off, as it will continue to thicken on its own. Move onto frying your vegetables.
Slice and lightly salt the eggplant and place between paper towels to absorb the moisture for about 15 minutes. If you are using peppers instead, cut lengthwise into large, extra wide strips. With the squash, use the top half to avoid seeds and get perfect circles, if you can. Peel and slice the squash into thin circles. Repeat with the zucchini. With the red onion, cut in slices—if they fall apart that’s ok. Stir and check your sauces!
Time to cook the vegetables. Add one tablespoon of sunflower oil to the pan over medium high heat. Pat the eggplant to endure it is dry. Pan fry the eggplant in batches till it caramelizes and place on a platter. Repeat the same process for the squash and zucchini adding salt and pepper as you cook. For the red onion, sauté with some oil, salt and pepper till soft and golden. You should now have a beautiful platter of vegetables.
This is the fun part. In a large rectangle casserole dish (9×12”), pour in the tomato sauce and spread evenly. Arrange one single layer of squash and push down into the sauce. Add the layer of eggplant or peppers. Drizzle half of the bechamel over top. If it has become too thick, just add a tablespoon of water. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Place your layer of red onions. Cover the onions with the zucchini slices. For the final layer, place the last slices of squash to cover the top layer to create a cozy flat surface. Pour and spread the remaining bechamel on top and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes till the top is a golden brown colour. Let sit for 10 minutes before you serve.
Where to Get the Goods!
- Vegetables Winter squashes + others through Fiddlehead Farm / Local Grocers
- Cheese & Maple Syrup Black River Cheese (open at the moment, but check before you go 613.476.2575) / Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co (delivery + touchless pickup available—order online (Crescenza is mozza comparable + Cape Vesey instead of Parm) / County Farm Centre – Picton
- Wine Pairing I would choose a fruity Gamay or a dry Riesling. Many of our local wineries are open for purchase pick-up and some are offering free delivery.