Ratatouille

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Ratatouille is summer vegetables stewed in olive oil with fresh herbs. Make it on a day when you’re not in a hurry. Like any good stew—or soup—it can’t be rushed. In traditional Provençal kitchens, each ingredient is cooked separately. The theory is that you cook away watery juices and intensify flavors before mixing everything into a succulent whole. I find, though, that the onions and bell pepper cook nicely together. Then you can add the tomatoes and herbs. You do have to cook the zucchini and eggplant separately. They both have a lot of juices you don’t want in your final stew. You can gussy it up with crushed coriander seeds or ground cumin or saffron if you like, but you don’t have to. Hope for leftovers. Like anything made with eggplant, ratatouille is better the second day. SAM

PS Despite what you see on the summer movie marquee, ratatouille is pronounced rata’ twee, NOT rat a too ee.

PS2 For a photo of of the Ratatouille Lakshmi made in South India, click here.

2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Bouquet garni: 3 or 4 sprigs each of parsley, thyme, and oregano, tied with cotton thread
1 bay leaf
1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 pound eggplant, thinly sliced
1 pound small zucchini, thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large chef’s pan over low heat, sweat the onions and bell pepper in 2 tablespoons oil, covered, until onions are translucent, about 20 minutes. Raise the heat to medium, add the garlic and tomatoes, and sauté for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the bouquet garni and bay leaf, cover, and simmer. Meanwhile, in another pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add the zucchini, cover, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Uncover and sauté until liquid is reduced, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the onion-tomato mixture. In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and sauté until browned, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Transfer to the onion-tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni and bay leaf. Serve as a stew or over rice or couscous.
Makes 6 servings.

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6 Responses to Ratatouille

  1. lathanarasimhan says:

    Hi
    Nice to find an eggplant recipe. Similar to my Indian recipes. I love eggplant and will definitely try this.
    bye latha.

  2. rockyroadoflove says:

    Indian eggplant and ratatouille? What a fascinating connection! I love eggplant, too, especially with toasted, ground cumin. If you add 4 or 5 ounces of melted goat’s cheese and 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, you can turn leftover ratatouille into a lovely gratin. SAM

  3. rockyroadoflove says:

    Check out Latha’s yummy blog: http://theyumblog.wordpress.com/. I love the ‘first cooking story’! SAM

  4. lakshmi says:

    Emily, I faithfully (almost, used the microwave to sweat/ steam/ par boil different veggies) followed your recipe for ratatouille – and it turned it wonderfully. the measure you have given result in such a wonderful balance of flavours – it was seriously super yummy. 🙂 im posting in on the yum blog later this week – do take a look.

    I’m so glad your ratatouille was good. The season is almost over here. I make it only with summer vegetables and tomatoes. I look forward to seeing the recipe on The ‘yum’ blog. What an honor! I love your website.

  5. […] faithfully (almost) followed her brilliant recipe, to cook up a delicious pot of Ratatouille. I omitted zuchinni, used the microwave to parboil and […]

  6. Hi emily,
    The world seems to be so small!! In the last few hours how much we have conversed! amazing! I just loved the look of lakshmi’s ratatouille. I dint make all these days as my son is not specially fond of brinjals. but now I will surely try!

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