Ratatouille is a traditional French vegetable dish from Provence. It is generally served as a side dish but is hearty enough to work as a co-main dish. Serve it with a chunk of good cheese and a salad and you have a quick and delicious dinner. It’s also scrumptious with fried eggs and a little parmesan cheese sprinkled on top – an easy dinner or an elegant and quick breakfast. Ratatouille actually tastes better a few days after its made and it’s almost as easy to make a lot as a little. So it’s a great dish to make for dinner, and then eat the leftovers the rest of the week
My gratitude to Patricia Wells for teaching me the basics of this ratatouille recipe in her wonderful cookbook “Bistro Cooking.” The secret is to cook the vegetables separately so that they can be individually timed for doneness and the taste of each vegetable shines through.
I’ve changed up the recipe a bit to make the cooking of the eggplant easier and less oily. Eggplant is an oil sponge and frying it is annoying and requires lots more oil than you probably feel like eating. Baking the cut up eggplant solves the problem.
- 6 - 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large onions (about 1 lb), sliced thin
- 3 large red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced thin
- 2-3 small eggplant (about 1 lb), unpeeled and cubed into about 1" pieces
- 1 28 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped and juice reserved
- 2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
- 1 cup sliced Kalamata olives (optional)
- 2 to 3 medium zucchini, about 1 pound, cubed
- Ground black pepper
- In a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and stir. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and golden, about 20 minutes. Make sure not to brown or burn them.
- Add bell peppers to onions, mix and continue to cook covered until the mixture is very soft, about 20-30 more minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, herbs de Provence, and olives if using. Cook uncovered until slightly reduced, about 20 minutes. Put in large bowl.
- While onion/pepper/tomato mixture is cooking, bake the eggplant:
- Adjust oven rack to top middle of oven. Put cubed eggplant on a baking sheet. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of oil onto eggplant and toss to coat eggplant in oil. I use my hands. Cook, without stirring or turning, until eggplant feel tender when stuck with a fork, about 30 - 35 minutes. Add to bowl.
- While eggplant bake, clean pan that you used to cook the vegetable/tomato mixture. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add zucchini and stir to coat with oil. Cook, covered, until tender, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking, about 20 minutes. Add to bowl.
- Mix vegetables gently and add salt and pepper to taste. Return to a large pan and heat gently on medium heat before serving.