Monday, August 15, 2011

Meatless Monday - "Ratatouille" Panini

This time of year is great with all the produce in the garden or farmers market. One of my favorite things to make is ratatouille, that delicious vegetable stew featuring eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes.

I had picked up some nice bread at the market, and thought, why not use those same flavors and make a sandwich, a toasted sandwich. A Ratatouille Panini!

Here in the States panini is used to denote a grilled sandwich, but the word comes from the Italian panino, meaning little roll. Panini is the plural form. So while the word is bastardized here in North America, it conjures an image of toasty crusty crunchy deliciousness. And when the stars of the sandwich come from your own garden? Well, it is only so much the better! I won't give exact measurements since I don't know how big you want your sandwich, and, being a sandwich it is a highly flexible "recipe." See what's fresh and take it from there!

Here's what I did.

Good bread
2-3 Tomatoes sliced 1/3" thick
Eggplant sliced into rounds
Zucchini sliced into rounds
Bell pepper, preferably red or yellow sliced into sections
2 Garlic bulbs, separated into cloves and peeled
olive oil
Herbs de Provence
softened goat cheese (optional)
Rosemary sprigs (optional)

In a small sauce pan add garlic cloves and rosemary. Add enough olive oil to cover. Cook over very low heat, don't boil. Simmer for about an hour. When the garlic cloves are very tender, remove from heat and let cool.

While garlic poaches, prepare the vegetables.

Preheat oven to 225-250F.

Put cut vegetables on cooling rack over a cookie sheet, sprinkle eggplant and zucchini with salt to draw out moisture. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, blot moisture with paper towel. Turn the vegetables over and repeat the process.

Sprinkle the vegetables with the Herbs de Provence.

Put vegetables in slow oven until tender and slightly dry. Check at 1 hour, then every 30 minutes after that.

Here's what I had after the slow roasting.

I have and used a panini press but you could use a ribbed skillet or even a grill outdoors. Work with what you have.

Remove the garlic cloves from the oil.

Grill the vegetables (except the tomatoes, they will bee too delicate) brushing with the garlic infused oil.

Assemble the sandwich.  Smear the tender garlic onto one side of one of the pieces of bread.  Smear the other piece with the goat cheese. These are the inside part of the sandwich.

Layer the vegetables onto one of the pieces of bread.

Put the other piece of bread on top. Brush the top with a generous amount of the garlic infused oil. Put the  sandwich oiled side down on the panini press or skillet or whatever you are using. Oil the other side.

Grill until toasty and starting to char in spots.  Remove from press and allow to cool slightly before cutting in two. This  served two.

It was absolutely delicous, crunchy bread, tender vegetables, the garlic mellowed by poaching. A perfect summer dinner.

What vegetables do you have on hand?

Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
Garden blog
Cooking blog
Twitter - @gastrogardener
email: thegastronomicgardener at gmail dot com


  1. Ohh looks good. Yet another recipe i am going to have to try!

  2. Sounds very like "Pain Bagnat", the Breton dish. You make it sound absolutely delicious, even though I don't like either peppers or eggplant - and I'm indifferent to zucchini!! Wouldn't be the same with just tomatoes though, would it?

  3. That Panini looks so good...I must go right now to the kitchen and find SOMETHING to eat, while I think about trying to make one of these for dinner tonight!

  4. Mrs Pickles - You flatter me!

    Mark, I don't know, I've eaten many tomato sandwiches in my life. Perhaps a bean mash spread on the bread?

    Egretta - what a huge compliment! If I can make you hungry then I've done my job!

  5. I have to say, David, that I've seen a number of similar sandwiches in recent weeks. Yours, by far, is the best looking and most tempting. I want one -- NOW!

  6. Thanks John! It was delicious.. I want another one...


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