Ratatouille

RatatouilleRatatouille is a traditional Provençale stewed vegetable dish that can be served as a meal on its own, accompanied by rice, potatoes or French bread, or as a side dish. It can be served hot or cold.

 

Recipe: Ratatouille

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic, or to taste
  • 1 eggplant (aubergine)
  • 1 green, red, yellow or a combination, bell pepper
  • 2 zucchini (courgettes)
  • 6 medium tomatoes, ripe (juicy), peeled and seeded
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Herbes de Provence to taste, (optional – see note below), or
  • 1 small bunch basil, chiffonéd (optional)

Instructions

  1. 1.Put a large casserole on the stove on medium heat.
  2. 2.When the casserole is hot, add enough olive oil to just cover the bottom.
  3. 3.Cut the zucchini and eggplant into ½ inch slices. Then cut these into rectangles of about 3 by 1 inches. Add to the casserole.
  4. 4.Sauté the slices until light brown
  5. 5.Chop the onions and garlic.
  6. 6.Cut the green pepper into strips or dice, as preferred.
  7. 7.Add the onions and peppers and cook slowly for about 10 minutes until tender but not brown. Stir in the garlic.
  8. 8.Peel and seed the tomatoes. Dice them or cut them into quarters, add to the casserole.
  9. 9.Five minutes later, check to see if the tomatoes have made enough juice to almost cover the vegetables – if so, perfect. If not, add water as needed (not too much).
  10. 10.Add salt, pepper and Herbes de Provence to taste. In general, 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper and 1 tbsp of the herbs will suffice.
  11. 11.Cover the casserole and let simmer on low heat until the vegetables are tender but still intact, 10 to 20 minutes, or to taste.
  12. 12.Remove the lid, raise the heat a little and cook uncovered for another 15 minutes, basting frequently until the liquids have mostly evaporated, leaving a small amount of juice and olive oil.

Quick notes

1. When ratatouille is used as a filling for savoury crêpes or to fill an omelette, the pieces are sometimes cut smaller.

2. While most recipes do not brown the onions, if you like them browned, brown them. Food traditions have always been subject to individual interpretation.

3. Unnecessary moisture can also be reduced by straining the liquid into a pan, reducing it over heat, then returning the reduced liquid to the casserole.

4. It is important that each of the vegetables retain its own shape and character. Most authorities agree that ratatouille should not be a mush. Avoid overcooking. Sautéing the eggplant and courgettes initially helps retain their shape and improves their flavour, but is optional. Of course if you personally prefer a more homogeneous dish, it may be cooked for 45 minutes to 1 hour, but this is unusual.


Herbes de Provence or Provençal herbs is a mixture of the herbs traditionally used in the cooking of Provence, France. The mixture was created in the 1970s to simplify the use of these herbs; traditional cooks did not have such a mixture, instead using the individual herbs in amounts suitable to their own tastes. Although a few commercial mixtures do not have it, many cooks consider that Herbes de Provence without lavender is not really Herbes de Provence.

A fairly standard mixture is given here:

Mix these dried herbs together:

  • 1 Tbs basil
  • 1 Tbs marjoram
  • ½ Tbs rosemary
  • 1 Tbs summer savory
  • 1 Tbs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf, crushed
  • 2 or 3 lavender flowers, crushed
Optional
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp sage

Number of servings (yield): 4

Image: By Marcus Guimarães (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

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