Grandma's byaldi

By Eric Ripert
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Byaldi is a very typical Provençal dish similar to a very fancy ratatouille. My grandmother made it on Sundays to bring with us when we visited our extended family in the countryside. We would have to drive for hours, but we didn’t mind because the smell of the byaldi in the car was so good. It took everything we had not to steal a piece before we arrived at my aunt Monique’s house. We wouldn’t even reheat it, we would just eat it warm from the casserole. It’s even better the next day if you manage to have leftovers.

SERVES
4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 medium yellow onions, quartered through the root and thinly sliced crosswise
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/8-inch- thick slices
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/8-inch- thick slices
  • 1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into ⅛-inch- thick slices
  • 1 large Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/8-inch- thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  2. In a large pot, combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil and the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring every few minutes, until they begin to brown and caramelize, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Season the onions with salt and pepper and transfer them to a 10-inch casserole or baking dish, distributing them in an even layer over the bottom of the casserole.
  4. Arrange a tight overlapping row of tomatoes along the edge of the casserole (as in the photo), then follow suit with the zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant, and another row of tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and eggplant, until you have filled the casserole with fanned rows of vegetables. Drizzle with the remaining ¼ cup olive oil, and season with the thyme and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Transfer to the oven and bake until the vegetables are tender and the casserole is bubbling and caramelized at the edges, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes in a warm place.
  6. Serve hot.

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