Ratatouille

Summer is almost over. With the abundance of fresh produce in the market, now is the time to make ratatouille.

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There are many variations of ratatouille recipes on the world wide web. Some calls for slow roasting the vegetables, some recommends a long simmer. Some cooks like to dice the vegetables, while others prefer to slice them. According to Larousse Gastronomique, different vegetables should be cooked separately to ensure consistency in texture, while modern method settles with an all-in-one-pot approach. Needless to say, there is no right and wrong on the approach you take, as long as it achieves the desired result.

I prefer my ratatouille soft, juicy but not too mushy.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 medium onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3 Roma tomatoes chopped
  • 1 medium to large Brandywine tomato chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed basil, sliced into ribbons

Instructions:

  1. Trim off the ends of the eggplant and zucchini. Do not peel. Cut each into one-inch cubes.
  2. Peel the onions and cut into one-half-inch cubes.
  3. Core, seed and de-vein the green peppers, and cut them into one-inch pieces.
  4. Heat the oil in a large heavy casserole, add the eggplant, sprinkle some flour and salt and pepper to taste, cook stirring often until soft and tender.
  5. Heat the oil in a large heavy casserole, add the zucchini, sprinkle some flour and salt and pepper to taste, cook stirring often until soft and tender.
  6. Heat the oil in a large heavy casserole, add the onions, green peppers and garlic. Cook, stirring, over high heat, about two minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes. Cook slowly until you have a thick tomato sauce.
  8. Add the eggplant and zucchini.
  9. Add a bouquet garni of bay leaf and thyme.
  10. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Bring to a boil and cover tightly. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for an hour.
  12. Remove from the heat.
  13. Discard bouquet garni.
  14. Stir in basil and parsley

Ratatouille often tastes better the second day, and it can be enjoyed cold, warm or simply at room temperature.

Note: (from reference.com)

Ratatouille is a thick stew primarily consisting of eggplants, zucchini and tomatoes. These ingredients are typical of the Provençal region of France. The dish, which is especially renowned in Nice, France, carries the full name Ratatouille Niçoise because of that.

The name ratatouille stems from two French words, “ratouiller” and “tatouiller.” Both are expressive forms of the French verb, touiller, meaning “to stir up.” The name didn’t occur in print until 1930. There is some debate about the exact origin of ratatouille, though. While some food historians consider it a typically French Provençal dish, others claim it could have come originally from the Catalonian or Basque regions of France. Zucchini and tomatoes came from the Americas, while eggplant came from India.

Finally, as food write Felicity Cloake puts it:

Ratatouille requires ripe vegetables, a liberal hand with the olive oil, and patience: only long, slow cooking will give you the creamy soft vegetables, and intense, almost jammy sauce that sings of the sun. Anything else is just plain vegetable stew.

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