Ratatouille is one of my most favorite dishes! It was first created in Nice, France as an inexpensive but flavorful way to use the bounty of a Summer garden. This is truly the easiest dish to prepare and can serve as a side or meal unto itself! It’s especially fun if all the ingredients come from your own garden (I’m hitting the vegetable stand across from the post office in Green Hills!)
As usual, I’m laissez-faire with my ingredients but a true French Ratatouille always includes eggplant, tomatoes, onion, peppers, zucchini, fresh thyme, Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper, and lots of good olive oil.
2 large eggplant
2 Vidalia onions (nod to our Southern roots!)
2 peppers (I usually include a yellow and orange for color)
Herbes de Provence
A bunch of fresh Thyme
1 Bay leaf
1-2 cups of fresh Basil cut into ribbons (roll up basil like a cigarette and cut at a diagonal)
Kosher salt or fleur de sel and ground pepper
Good olive oil!
First, wash all the vegetables well. Cut up the eggplant in bite-size cubes, then salt them and lay to the side. They need to sweat. Once you have chopped all of your other vegetables, you can wash off the eggplant. I usually rough chop all the vegetables. In my Le Creuset soup pot, I generously coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil, more than you think! I sauté the onions first. I usually sprinkle the onions with a little salt and pepper and Herbes de Provence to create a nice start for the dish. Then I add the peppers and allow them to sauté a couple of minutes. Next, I add the zucchini and eggplant. If you have the left over rind of a block of Parmesan cheese, toss it it! Once all of these vegetables start to soften, I turn down the heat and pour in my tomatoes, more olive oil, 2 teaspoons of Herbes de Provence, 3-4 sprigs of fresh Thyme, salt and pepper, 1 bay leaf, 1 cup of fresh basil, and invite all of these yummy ingredients to marinate together for around 30 minutes! I taste and stir all along the way! If you would like the vegetables to retain their shape, only cook for about 30-45 minutes. The French are known to leave the pot on the stove for a whole afternoon to attain that quintessential silky Ratatouille! Remove the Thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind. The grand finale is to top each serving with a sprinkling of fresh Basil and Parmesan cheese.
I recommend a simple green salad with ribbons of Parmesan cheese and a homemade French salad dressing (a spoonful of Dijon mustard, 3/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper, Herbes de Provence, juice of half to a whole of a lemon..to taste). Toss in a baguette and Bon Appetit!!
Live in Hope,