Last fall while in Paris I became a little (ok maybe a lot) into ratatouille. I was cooking it up about once a week and liking it but always tasting, tweaking and re-trying. Well dollopers we now have “the one” and lucky for us the farmstands (and supermarkets) are overflowing with all the makings for this delicious summer dish!
Starting with the freshest vegetables always puts you ahead on the flavor scale but cooking the vegetables separately and then mixing them at the end as described here really takes the flavor to a whole new place. My “ish” with Ratatouille had always been that the vegetables were tasting too similar once they were cooked together and lost their individual texture and uniqueness. This recipe resolves that – you will be able to taste the different vegetables in every bite. Yes, I know it adds steps = time but as someone who stayed inside on a perfect beach morning to make this I can honestly say it’s worth every minute (and it really doesn’t take that long).
The steps are simple but there are steps
Here’s how it works. Chop the vegetables and keep them all separate. The eggplant and zucchini should be chopped into about 1/2″ cubes and the peppers and onions 1/4″ pieces. Drain the tomatoes and slice them into 1/4″ pieces so they look like wheels and crush the garlic. Set everything aside and get a big frying / sauté pan.
Pour the oil in, add the eggplant, season with salt and peppers and you’re off. Stir the eggplant regularly as you sauté and cook until it is tender but not cooked completely. Remove the eggplant from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Add a little oil and repeat with the zucchini. After the zucchini is partially cooked remove from the pan. Add a little oil, the garlic and onions to then pan. Sauté until golden brown then add the peppers, sauté. Add the tomatoes and herbs. Cook until most of the juices have evaporated and the peppers are soft. Add the eggplant and zucchini back in and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until all vegetables are cooked but not mushy (very technical term).
Remove from heat and toss with the julienned basil and voila ratatouille!
- Eggplant – 1 large, peeled and cut into cubes (about 8 cups cubed)
- Zucchini - 2 medium cut into cubes
- Garlic – 6 cloves crushed
- Onion - 2, chopped
- Green peppers - 2 chopped
- Peeled plum tomatoes - 1 35 oz can drained and sliced
- Bay leaf – 2
- Thyme – 1 ½ teaspoon
- Basil - 16 leaves julienned
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare vegetables and keep them separated after chopping
- Peel eggplant and chop into ½" cubes and set aside
- Chop zucchini into ½" cubes and set aside
- Chop onions into ¼" pieces and set aside
- Chop peppers into ¼" pieces and set aside
- Crush garlic and set aside
- Drain and slice tomatoes and set aside
- Pour 3 tablespoon olive oil into pan add eggplant, season with salt and pepper (about ¼ teaspoon of each) and sauté
- Stir frequently until eggplant is semi-soft (but not completely cooked) and some edges are brown (about 10 minues).
- Remove eggplant from pan and put in a large bowl
- Pour 1 teaspoon of olive oil in same pan, add zucchini and sauté
- Sauté zucchini stirring reguallry until it is semi-soft (but not completely cooked) and some edges are brown (10 - 12 minutes)
- Remove zucchini from pan and put in a bowl
- Pour 1 teaspoon of olive oil in pan and sauté onions and garlic until golden brown (about 5 minutes)
- Add peppers and continue to sauté until peppers are semi-soft (but not completely cooked) (about 5 more minutes)
- Add sliced tomatoes to pan with peppers, onions and garlic and stir once
- And bay leaf and thyme simmer until liquid is almost all evaporated, stirring frequently
- Add eggplant and zucchini back to pan with tomato mixture and sauté together for 3-5 minutes until all vegetables are completely cooked
- Remove from heat
- Remove bay leaves
- Add julienned basil and mix
- Serve hot or room temperatre
This is delicious hot or at room temperate and can be a side or a meal. If you have any leftovers it’s great reheated or tossed over pasta with a little parmesan.