When I first started buying cookbooks, I was attracted to books that seemed vast and comprehensive, with tiles like 1,000 Indian Recipes, The Soup Bible, How to Cook Everything, and The Cake Bible. I wanted big and heavy hard covers with lots of pictures. I was an excited culinary student who wanted to learn how to cook every dish known to man. I still want to learn every dish, but years later, I now realize it will take 4 lifetimes, possibly more. What makes it even harder is that there are dishes and books you want to go back to and repeat.

The idea behind this dish is a Broiled Vegetable Terrine in one of my first cookbooks, The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia. I made that recipe with the guidance of my wonderful neighbor, at the time, Carol Gelles, who ironically wrote and gave me a copy of 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes. For the 3-ish years that I lived next door to her, I accumulated a ton of great cooking memories. As I flipped through The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia recently, I landed on a picture of the vegetable terrine, which made me smile, think of Carol, and then really want to make it again. The original recipe has an onion and raisin mixture  that I thought was a little awkward in the dish and also made it more work so I removed that but left the wonderful concept of layering that give you different textures in each bite. The colors will impress your guests, but the natural sweetness of fresh vegetables is what will have them asking for more.

Colorful Vegetable Terrine with Balsamic Reduction 3

This recipe looks like a bit of work and it is but if you do it once and get the hang of it, it’ll be easier the next time and end up being a keeper, especially if you want to impress a vegetarian (who’s ok with gelatin) or maybe someone who’s trying to keep healthy (just look at these ingredients).  I also love it because you can make it days in advance. This might be on the menu for my mom’s birthday…

Ratatouille Terrine
~6 to 8 appetizer or side servings

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil + extra for greasing sheets
  • 2 medium sized zucchini
  • 1 (13oz) eggplant
  • 1 (15oz) can tomato sauce, divided
  • 2 tablespoons gelatin
  • 3 large bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow), roasted
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat the broiler.  Slice zucchini lengthwise, about 1/4″ thick. Lay on a greased baking sheet so that they do not over lap. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and spread with brush or fingers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil (about 4 inches from heat source) until softened and lightly golden, about 5 to 6 minutes. *Note: You may have to rotate your baking sheet for even coking. Set aside to cool.

before broiling eggplant

2. Slice eggplant lengthwise, between 1/4″ and 1/2″ thick. Lay on a greased baking sheet so that the pieces do not overlap. Spread 2 teaspoons of olive oil over the eggplant slices with a brush or your fingers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Broil (about 4 inches away from heat source) until softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. *Note: you may have to rotate your baking sheet for even cooking. Set aside to cool.

broiled zucchini

3. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan, then lay plastic wrap against the bottom and side with extra hanging out from the sides.

prepared loaf pan

4. Put 1 cup tomato sauce in a small pot. Sprinkle gelatin over the top. Dissolve while stirring over low heat. Do not allow it to boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

5. Put a layer of roasted peppers down in the prepared loaf pan. Spread 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce/gelatin mixture on top. Place a layer of zucchini on top with another 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce/gelatin. Place a layer of eggplant on top and more tomato sauce/gelatin. Continue layering until you finish the vegetables. (Don’t worry if you have a few pieces left over.)

layer of roasted red pepperlayer of tomato sauce
layer of broiled zucchini
layer of tomato sauce on zucchini
layer of broiled eggplant
layer of tomato sauce on eggplant

6. If you have any remaining tomato sauce/gelatin, mix with the rest of the tomato sauce form the can and pour on top of the vegetables. Give it a good shake to disperse sauce and cover up with the plastic wrap. Refrigerate to set, at least 4 hours, but great for making a day or two in advance.

top layerwrapped Colorful Vegetable Terrine

7. When you are ready to serve. Open the plastic wrap and invert it onto a cutting board. Slice however thick you like but too thin may fall apart. I suggest 1 1/2″ wide.

Colorful Vegetable Terrine loaf 3

Colorful Vegetable Terrine loaf

8. Lay it on a plate and drizzle with balsamic reduction and extra virgin olive oil.

Colorful Vegetable Terrine with Balsamic Reduction

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