Memories and healthy recipes for your dinner table.

Ratatouille: A Simple Peasant’s Dish

ratatouille

Ratatouille is a traditional French Provencal vegetable dish starring tomatoes and roasted vegetables. There are plenty of theories out there on the proper way to prepare Ratatouille. Some simply roast the vegetables for a light clean presentation. Others including Julia Childs chose to layer the vegetables in a thick tomato based sauce as seen in the Pixar movie “Ratatouille”. While Julia’s version may be breathtaking it is stretch for novice cooks to achieve the uniform look of the dish. For time and patience sake we believe in the chop it, toss it together and bake approach.

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
3 tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small aubergine (eggplant), halved, quartered then chopped
1 courgettes (zucchini), halved then chopped
1 yellow squash, halved then chopped
2 bell peppers (preferably red and yellow), chopped
Few sprigs fresh thyme leaves or a generous dash of Herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the onions, garlic and tomatoes into a baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in the eggplant, zucchini, squash and peppers over the tomatoes. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs by running your fingertips down the stem. Sprinkle over the vegetables. Cover with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside the dish.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese and a serving of polenta, couscous or white beans. Serves 4-5

Variations:
-Toss vegetables with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup Kalamata olives.
-Layer the vegetables on pastry dough for a yummy Ratatouille tart.
-Drop rounds of biscuit dough with chopped bits of sausage mixed in.
-For a Southern flare toss in a 1/2 cup of okra.
-Stuff the vegetables into halved green peppers. Top with a small slice of Monterey Jack cheese, a dollop of tomato sauce and a sprinkle of panko crumbs and Parmesan cheese.