As much as I love vegetarian meals, it can be challenging to create one that's satisfying enough for the husband. I can live off of just bread and cheese but he needs a little more. In an effort to satisfy both our palates and stomachs, I decided to create an Asian ratatouille. This comforting bowl is loaded with vegetables, seasoned with familiar Asian spices, and finished with a drizzle of cilantro yogurt sauce. The plus side? I get to still enjoy it with crusty bread on the side.
- 6 tablespoons oil divided
- 1 red onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 3 Anaheim peppers diced
- 1 zucchini diced
- 1 Idaho potato peeled and diced
- 1 Japanese eggplant diced
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon five spice powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 large tomatoes peeled and chopped
- ⅓ cup Shaoxing wine
- 1 cup water or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro for garnish
Cilantro yogurt sauce
- 1 cup cilantro
- 1 cup Greek yogurt plain
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 garlic clove
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan or Dutch over medium heat. Add chopped onion, bell peppers, and Anaheim peppers and saute until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- In the same pan, heat another tablespoon oil. Add chopped zucchini and potato and cover the pot. Cook until potatoes begin to soften, about 6-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- In the same pan, heat another 2 tablespoons oil. Add chopped eggplant and saute until beginning to soften, about 7-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- In the same pan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add tomato paste, cumin, Szechuan peppercorns, five spice, and turmeric, stirring to combine. Continue to saute until tomato paste is caramelized, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add chopped tomatoes and Shaoxing wine. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook until tomatoes break down and soften. Add cooked vegetables, soy sauce and sugar, stirring to combine. Add just enough water to cover partially the vegetables, about 1 cup. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make cilantro yogurt sauce. Blend together cilantro, yogurt, lime juice, and garlic until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Remove lid and transfer vegetables to roasting pan and roast for 40-45 minutes or until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from oven and give ratatouille final seasoning if needed. Transfer ratatouille to serving bowls and drizzle cilantro yogurt sauce on top. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with rice or crusty bread.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Ratatouille is a dish made with love. It takes time to properly cook down the vegetables and let them marry together. However, it's one of the most comforting vegetarian meals.
This Asian ratatouille is a bit different than the classic French dish because it uses Asian spices to flavor the vegetables. We're also going to finish the stew with a creamy cilantro yogurt sauce just to add another element. Ready to get started?
Before you start cooking, prepare all of the vegetables. Chop all of the vegetables including red bell peppers, red onion, Anaheim bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and potato into small dice. You want to cut them all about the same size.
Then, heat oil in a large saute pan and saute the red onion and both peppers until softened. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In the same pan, saute the zucchini and potatoes until softened. We cook the vegetables in different batches because certain vegetables take longer than others to cook. Eggplant takes quite a long time to soften, so we're going to cook it last and separately from the others.
Make sure to season each of the vegetables with salt and pepper.
Remove the eggplant and saute garlic and ginger until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the spices including tomato paste, cumin, ground Szechuan peppercorns, five-spice powder, and turmeric. Let the tomato paste really caramelize to deepen the flavors. Don't worry if it gets stuck to the bottom of the pan, we'll deglaze it with wine.
Next, add chopped tomatoes and Shaoxing wine. If you can't find Shaoxing wine, substitute it with sherry wine. If tomatoes are not in season, you can use canned tomatoes instead.
Bring to a simmer and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the bottom of the pan to release any tomato paste that is stuck to the pan. Continue to simmer until the tomatoes break down and soften.
Add back all of the cooked vegetables along with soy sauce, sugar, and just enough water to partially cover the vegetables. I found that 1 cup was just the right amount. Season the Asian ratatouille with salt and pepper and simmer for 20 minutes on low heat.
Remove the lid and either transfer the vegetables to a roasting pan. You can also transfer the entire pot to the oven if you're using a Dutch oven. Continue roasting the ratatouille in the oven until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. This is the final stage of letting those deep flavors really develop.
While the stew is finishing up, make the cilantro yogurt sauce. All you have to do is blend together cilantro with yogurt, lime juice, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and set it aside.
Can you smell all those wonderful flavors? I couldn't wait to dive right in.
Portion the Asian ratatouille into bowls, drizzle the cilantro yogurt sauce on top, and finish with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro. Enjoy the dish with rice or with crusty bread as I did. I can't even begin to tell you how comforting this meal was. And luckily, it was filling enough for even the husband!
For more Asian vegetarian inspiration check out these sesame chili udon noodles!
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