In the summer, ratatouille is a dish that is available everywhere in Provence. The reason is that it combines all the vegetables and herbs that are at their prime during the summer months: zucchini, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, salt, fresh pepper, and olive oil.
The “ratatouille” that is served in restaurants in the U.S.A. is a variation of the classic dish. The interpretation is more of a vegetable stew rather than the classic ratatouille that is so loved in France. To understand what makes it so special and why it has become a classic that is loved by so many, you need to taste the original.
The recipe is easy. All you need to do is cut up a lot of vegetables, place them in a Dutch oven, add some herbs, a little olive oil, and cook them for two hours.
The results are much more than a mix of vegetables because the long, slow heat condenses the flavors, caramelizing them into a unique medley that is far more intense than a stew but stops short of becoming a purée—that’s what makes ratatouille so good.
Because it’s good hot, warm, or cold, ratatouille’s versatility adds to its significance and the multiple ways it is served.
Traditionally, the dish is served with two fried eggs and slices of French bread. If you’ve never had the pleasure, you’ll be surprised by this combination of flavors and you’ll understand why it is a French classic.
As a vegetarian dish it is packed with flavor and does not need the addition of meat to make it satisfying. Serve it with rice, risotto, quinoa, or pasta.
And as a side dish, you’ll find it served with almost anything: grilled meats, fish, roast chicken, or eggs.
The Classic Ratatouille Provençal
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 2 ½ hours
2 medium or large eggplants
3 large zucchini
2 large onions
4 cloves garlic crushed
4 peppers red and green
3 large tomatoes
5 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 sprigs of Thyme,
2 Bay leaves
Start by peeling the tomatoes (instructions below).
Peel and chop the onion into ½-inch cubes.
Without peeling, slice the zucchini lengthwise into ½-inch slices and into ½-inch cubes.
Cut the eggplant as you did the zucchini, ending up with ½-inch cubes.
Quarter the peppers and cut out the seeds and membranes. Slice into ½-inch pieces.
Place the oil in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the onion and garlic,
cooking without browning until they’ve softened and become transparent.
Add the remaining vegetables, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.
Cover and cook for 30 minutes on medium heat. Keep stirring so the vegetables don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Uncover and continue to cook for 1½ hours; the liquid will evaporate. Continue to cook down. Continue to stir as it cooks.
As the vegetables cook down, they will lose their shape, that is what you want.
You’ve now made traditional ratatouille Provençal. Enjoy.
Did you hear about my OUTRAGEOUS goal?!
Ending one year and starting a new one is an opportunity to think BIG!!!
Here Is What's Happening
I've learned a lot about what my new website can do, and it is exciting. What it means is that there is still so much to do to get all the different parts to work—I have to be patient.
I want to take the month of August off. That doesn't mean I won't be publishing my weekly blog. I made a commitment to myself to post every week and I still plan on doing that. I want to continue writing about the traditional side dishes that are common in Provence, France; and since I want to take 6 weeks off my solution is to write the next six blog posts before the beginning of August. I'm not accustomed to writing posts ahead of time but why not? It will, not only, allow me to take time off but in the future, it can give me time to work on my other projects. What a novel idea!
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Le Kitchen Cookbook
Everything you need to know to be a good cook.
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