Confit Byaldi

confit byaldi
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Confit byaldi is the lesser known, but fancier, version of ratatouille. My mother loves ratatouille, but I have to confess that sometimes it just feels like a jumble of mushy vegetables, lazily thrown together. This version takes a bit more work for placement, but better highlights the flavors of the vegetables without transforming them to a pile of mush. Typically byaldi is served over a red pepper sauce, but I prefer the sweet flavor of onions as the base for this dish.

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Confit Byaldi is a traditional French dish, from my favor region- Provence. Provence is known for it’s simple, vegetable-based dishes, highlighted by aromatic herbs. I’ve never eaten like I have in Provence. In fact, the best meal that I’ve ever had was in a small country home that doubled as a restaurant on their outdoor patio. I’m happy just thinking about that evening. Ratatouille is a simpler, less refined version of Byaldi, though the flavor profile is similar. Both have an amazing ability to transform simple vegetables to a flavor explosion. On top of being delicious and beautiful, byaldi is an allergy friendly dish with which to impress your family and guests.

Typically byaldi has a roasted red bell pepper sauce as it’s base, however, I prefer the carmelized onion base as a sweet compliment to the lovely vegetable flavor. Of course, as would be expected, the vegetables are transformed with garlic, olive oil and herbs. It really is amazing how simple this dish is, with only a few ingredients.

Start by preparing the base

Quarter the onions and roughly chop. Warm 1/4 cup olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, herbes de provence and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. It is important to have proper herbes de provence, which are found more and more frequently at your local grocery store. If not, you can combine dried herbs: oregano, thyme, lavender, and rosemary; it’s not ideal, but better than nothing. Saute the onions, stirring frequently until golden, softened and caramelized, 20 minutes.

While the onions cook, prepare the vegetables

Using a mandoline, thinly slice all of the vegetables to 1/8-inch thickness. Start with the eggplant, and sprinkle salt over the slices; this helps to drain excess moisture and mitigate the eggplant turning mushy. Set eggplant aside. Core the tomatoes first, and then slice. Slice the zucchini and summer squash. With a paper towel, wipe off excess salt and moisture from the eggplant.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare the confit byaldi

Grab a 10 inch casserole dish. Layer the caramelized onions evenly on the bottom of the casserole dish. Along one side of the dish, tightly layer a vertical column of tomatoes. Repeat with a tight column of zucchini, slightly overlapping over the tomatoes. Repeat with a column of squash, then eggplant, followed by another column of each vegetable. You may not use all of the vegetables depending on size. Top the vegetables with minced garlic, chopped thyme, salt and pepper, and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Cut a piece of parchment paper to the size of the casserole dish and place on top (this helps to steam them). Cook for 25 minutes, and then remove the parchment paper. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until you see the edges begin to caramelize. The vegetables should be nice and soft, but still hold their shape. Remove from heat and rest for 15 minutes.

confit byaldi layered vegetables
Layered vegetables in tight columns

layered vegtables drizzled with oil, garlic and herbs
Drizzle with oil, garlic and thyme
cooked confit byaldi
cooked byaldi casserole

Place a ring mold in the center of a plate. If you don’t have a ring mold, you can also take a paper cup and cut the bottom off of it- there’s always a way to improvise! Place a scoop of the caramelized onions at the bottom of the ring mold. Fill the ring mold with the vegetables, stacked vertically so that they will appear that they are standing on their sides (see main photo), and then place a layer over the top (horizontally). Carefully remove the ring mold, garnish with fresh thyme if you’d like. Serve warm

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Yield: 6 servings

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 45-50 minutes

Confit Byaldi Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de provence
  • 4 small-medium yellow onions, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Japanese eggplant, sliced to 1/8 inch thickness
  • 4 plum (Roma) tomatoes, cored and sliced to 1/8 inch thick rounds
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in 1/8 inch thick rounds
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced in 1/8 inch thick rounds
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste (roughly 1 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper)

Confit Byaldi Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
  2. Warm 1/4 cup olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add sliced onion, herbes de provence and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until they begin to caramelize- roughly 20 minutes. While the onions cook, sprinkle the sliced eggplant with salt and let rest for 10 minutes. With a paper towel, wipe away excess salt and moisture.
  3. Layer the onions in an even layer on the bottom of a 10 inch casserole dish.
  4. Along one side of the dish, tightly layer a vertical column of tomatoes on top of the caramelized onions. Repeat with a tight column of zucchini, slightly overlapping the column of tomatoes. Repeat with a column of squash, then eggplant; followed by another column of each vegetable.
  5. Drizzle the vegetables with remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, minced garlic and fresh thyme. Top with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste (roughly 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
  6. Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of the casserole dish and place on top of the vegetables.
  7. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the edges are golden and caramelized. You’ll want the vegetables fully cooked but still able to hold their shape. Remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Place a ring mold in the center of a plate. Place a scoop of the caramelized onions at the bottom of the ring mold. Fill the ring mold with the vegetables stacked vertically, and then place a layer horizontally over the top. Carefully remove the ring mold and serve warm.

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