Ratatouille: All Summer Colors in One Dish

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Ratatouille.
Ratatouille is a classic French dish that is made out of vegetables harvested during the summer: eggplants, zucchinis, peppers and tomatoes.

It can be served hot, warm or cold, depending on the season and your taste. If you eat it cold, a good idea is to add some olive oil at the table

The flavors and aromas of the French Provence season and perfume the ratatouille: olive oil, garlic, rosemary, bay leaves and basil, to recreate the best of the Mediterranean and Provençal cuisines. 

It can be served as an appetizer, a side dish, or as a main course. Leftovers are perfect for omelettes and even quiches… however, we love it so much that we never have any leftover…

The trick is to cook the vegetables to the point they are juicy and tender but not mashed. There is no need to add any liquid, since the vegetables provide their own abundant moisture. When the vegetables are done, I drain them and make a syrup by simmering the liquid.

I learned the syrup trick in the book of Vegetables, from The Good Cook series, edited by Time Life. I got almost the entire collection when I was 19 year-old and started learning English in order to be able to understand all the cooking techniques and recipes. Every time I moved to another country, I carried my books with me. I still treasure and consult them.

Ratatouille | Ingredients for 6-8 portions
3 Tbs of extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of yellow or white onions, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
3 cups of eggplants cut into ½-inch cubes
2 cups of zucchini cut into ½-inch cubes
2 cups of bell peppers (I used red, orange and yellow for color purposes) cut into ½-inch pieces
4 cups of tomatoes peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 rosemary sprigs
2 thyme sprigs
2 dried bay leaves
1 cup of basil leaves minced
Salt and pepper

In a large heavy saucepan warm the oil. Sauté the onions until they are transparent. Add the garlic and eggplants and cook them for 4 minutes. Add the zucchinis and peppers and cook for another 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, bay and basil. Cover and cook on medium to low heat for 40 minutes. Take away the rosemary, thyme and basil. Being careful not to mash the vegetables, put them in a big colander and let them drain for 30 minutes. Simmer the liquid for 20-30 minutes until it gets a syrup consistency.

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