Hearty Vegan Ratatouille – with a faux “meatball” layer
My mother is obsessed with Ratatouille. She makes it every weekend, and insisted I try it. Her recipe contains Italian Meatballs, and I wanted to stay as true to her recipe as possible, while being vegan. Meatballs are rich, full of fat and flavor, I wanted to somehow mimic that richness. I was chatting with a friend of mine about a one of our favorite Vegan Restaurants, and she mentioned that it had a vegan sausage… and it got me to thinking…and researching. If I focused on creating a layer for the ratatouille that mimic’d the richness/flavor of italian sausage, it would be perfect!
Inspirational Links! These recipes all inspired and helped make this recipe what it is.
- 1 Zucchini
- 1 Yellow Squash
- 1 Celery Stick
- ~1 LB Mushrooms (I actually ended up saving some – so a little under a pound)
- About 5-7 Brussel Sprouts (Optional)
- 2 Handfuls of Walnuts
- Nutritional Yeast
- 1 Large Yellow Onion
- 2 T Tomato Paste
- 1/2 Can of Crushed Tomatoes (Or puree up a few tomatoes if you prefer)
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Red Wine
- 1 C Cooked Beans (I used kidney)
- Oil of choice
- Sun Dried Tomato Powder (This is a niche spice – if you cannot find it – just chop up regular sun dried tomatoes)
- Smokey Paprika & Regular Paprika
- 1 T Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 T Tamari
- Salt & Pepper
- Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 – 2 Lemons Juiced.
- For Serving: Either Rice or Quinoa Pasta
I’m going to break the directions down by section – but just for reference, I was making all of these things simultaneously, while one thing is simmering, be chopping, etc, etc. I recommend reading the steps, then planning your attack.
Sauce Layer Base
- Drizzle EVOO in a large saucepan (this will need to be deep enough to simmer a sauce). Dice your onion, and add 3/4 of it to the pan – put the rest aside. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in about 1 – 2 Cloves Minced Garlic and saute another minute.
- Once it is lightly browning, add in 1/2 C Red Wine (Just a note – I actually used Red Wine Vinegar – and a bit of Agave to take down the acidity, since I didn’t have red wine on hand….but Red wine would be optimal). Also add your Crushed Tomatoes as well as 2 T Tomato Paste Mixed with about 1 C Water. Add a bay leaf, about 1 T Chopped Basil (or however much you please!) and a bit of Oregano and stir everything together. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove Bay Leaf and toss.
- In a Pan, heat oil over medium heat. I used coconut to add a richness and fattiness to it, but this is optional. Saute your onions for about 5 minutes. Add 1 Clove Garlic Minced, saute for another minute.
- Add in the vinegar, tamari and a few chopped mushrooms and saute for a few minutes more.
- Smash your beans with a fork, or blend up with a bit of water and add that to the pan as well.
- Now add your spices to taste, I just gave everything a generous few shakes: Smokey Paprika & Regular Paprika, Oregano, Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, Nutritional Yeast, Generous amount of Sun Dried Tomato Powder, and finally finely chopped celery.
- Mix everything together and let sit on very low, while you take care of anything else.
- Preheat your oven to 375F
- Take a large casserole dish and fill the bottom with your sauce base.
- Next cut our veggies. I used a mandolin at 1/8inch setting to slice my Squashes, but you can also just thinly slice. Also Thinly slice your mushrooms, and shred the brussel sprouts.
- You can layer everything nicely, as you are supposed to with a ratatouille, alternating rows of squash, mushroom, and with a bit of the brussel sprouts strewn throughout. Make sure your adding a drizzle of EVOO, salt & pepper, as you add more layers. You can also probably throw everything in haphazardly. But what fun is that?
- After you’ve layered everything, take your Meaty Mixture (it will be thick) and spread it around on the top as best you can.
- Finally take a piece of parchment paper and fit it to your pan as best you can, push it down into the pan, and condense everything fairly tight together, don’t force things to gush up and over though.
- Bake for about 45 minutes, then turn the oven to very low and just let everything cook together as long as you can wait, it’s great to do this a little early, and give it a lot of time to bake together. Remove from the oven and drizzle with a bit of lemon juice.
I served mine over some Quinoa Pasta that was drizzled with Lemon Juice, and a few dashes of oregano and basil.
Apologies if I missed anything – this was a more involved recipe than I thought When in doubt – add more garlic, more spices MORE FLAVOR!!