If you’re searching for a plant-based summer recipe that is as visually striking as it is delicious, look no further. This Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust combines two of my favorite things—simply-prepared vegetables and soft corn polenta—and elevates them into one magnificent main. Did I mention that it’s naturally gluten-free and vegetarian?*
*I wrote vegan swaps in the recipe, too.While this recipe takes some time to prepare, none of the steps are difficult and the results are more than worth the effort! You can make things easier for yourself by preparing the polenta and forming the crust a day ahead.When you’re ready to bake, spread on some tomato sauce and slice up a bunch of summer produce. If you’re a little fancier than I am and have a mandoline, this would be a great time to use it.Assemble the tart by arranging the sliced vegetables in concentric circles and finishing them off with olive oil and fresh thyme. Cover the whole thing with a parchment round to ensure that everything cooks evenly. And then……well, let’s just say I’ll pray for you during the thirty minutes between baking and slicing. I promise it’ll be worth the wait. I mean, when are polenta and ratatouille not worth the wait?!I love this tart when it’s fresh, but you should know that it slices particularly well at room temperature and cold, meaning this is a great make-ahead option. The tart pictured here was made on a Monday and reheated by the slice for lunches all week long.It was exactly as wonderful as it looks.
Ratatouille Tart with Polenta Crust
ratatouille adapted from Deb Perelman
makes 1 9-inch round tart, 4-6 servings
2 cups water
1 cup whole milk (or unflavored, unsweetened plant milk)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon prepared dijon mustard
few grinds freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
1/2-1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt (based on your taste), divided
~1/2 small, thin eggplant, 1/8 inch slices
~1/2 medium zucchini, 1/8 inch slices
~1/2 medium yellow squash, 1/8 inch slices
~1/2 long, thin red bell pepper, seeded, 1/8 inch slices
~1 1/2 roma tomatoes, 1/8 inch slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
few grinds freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
9-inch round piece of parchment paper
For serving (optional):
fresh parsley or other herbs
feta or goat cheese
Grease a 9-inch round springform pan or tart pan with removable bottom. Set aside.
Make polenta. Bring water and milk to a simmer. Keep an eye on it, as milk can boil over dramatically without much notice. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Whisking constantly, add polenta in a thin stream. Reduce heat to medium-low, whisking very frequently for 25-30 minutes, until thick. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter, dijon, and black pepper. Transfer to prepared pan and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to spread it to the edges. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Using the back of a wet spoon, press the polenta from the center toward the edges of the pan to create a rustic crust. Set aside. At this point, the crust may be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare the ratatouille filling. Spread tomato sauce on the bottom of the tart. Scatter minced garlic and shallot over the top, along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Starting from the outer edge and working in a concentric circle to the center, arrange sliced eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper and tomato in an overlapping pattern. Drizzle with olive oil and top with 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper and fresh thyme.
Cut a piece of parchment to fit over the pan, covering all exposed tart. Gently lay it in the pan. Bake tart 45-55 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove and discard parchment. Let tart cool at least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve with fresh herbs or cheese, if desired.
Slices will be neatest at room temperature, but tart may be served at any temperature. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.