Ratatouille: The Perfect Summer Dish

Ratatouille: The Perfect Summer Dish
August 25, 2011 Leslie Juvin-Acker

During our 18 day vacation along the cote d’azur, we didn’t miss a chance to eat ratatouille at least three times. This home style dish is a staple along the France’s southern regions, for what better way is there to use all of our summer vegetables found at the farmer’s market?

Our first ratatouille of the summer was at our friend’s country estate in Provence. The hearty, aromatic dish was served with eggs, but it can be served with just about anything. Serve it as a main dish, side dish, or as an appetizer with large unleavened crackers. The greatest thing about ratatouille is that it’s easy to make and all the ingredients are as equally simple to find. Eat it hot or cold, it tastes great either way! Store it in the freezer for a week or in the fridge for a few days. The longer the stew sits, the better it tastes.

Make your own ratatouille for your family with Julia Child’s ratatouille recipe found in her book, Mastering The Art of French Cooking and watch the video below to see just how easy it is to make this French favorite.

1 lb. eggplant
1 lb. zucchini
1 tsp. salt
4-6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 lb. (about 1 1/2 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
2 sliced red or green peppers (about 1 cup)
2 cloves mashed garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 lb. firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced
3 Tbsp. minced parlsey

Directions

Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8″ think, about 3″ long and 1″ wide. Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends and cut into slices about the same size as the eggplant. Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with 1 tsp. salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain and dry each slice in a towel.

One layer at a time, saute the eggplant and then the zucchini in 4 Tbsp. hot olive oil in a 10-12″ skillet for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly. Remove to a side dish.

In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers (add an additional 2 Tbsp. of olive oil if needed) for about 10 minutes, until tender but not browned. Stir in the garlic and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Slice tomato pulp into 3/8″ strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt & pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice. Uncover, taste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil for several minutes until juice has almost entirely evaporated.

Place a third of the tomatoe mixture in the bottom of a 2 1/2 quart casserole (about 2 1/2″ deep). Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. fresh, minced parlsey over tomatoes. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.

Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip the casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Correct seasoning if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil. Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole!. Serves 6-8.

Number of Servings: 8

 

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