Serve Up the Fruits of Fall in Ratatouille
Ratatouille is a peasant dish from Provence prepared with the fruits of Fall.
You make ratatouille with a variety of fresh vegetables, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants (aubergines), capsicums (bell peppers), onions and garlic. It's a refreshing way to use up lots of tomatoes in the early autumn.
You can enjoy ratatouille hot or cold, as an appetiser, main course or as a chunky sauce over pasta, rice, couscous or noodles.
A Thousand Ratatouille Recipes
Don't get confused!
I'm sure everyone has their own way of making ratatouille - it depends upon what's in your garden at the time.
The basic ingredients are fresh vegetables, eggplants (aubergines), zucchini (courgette), onions, garlic, capsicum (bell peppers), and lots of tomatoes.
Are the Tomatoes Fresh?
Supermarket Tomatoes are too often Tasteless
If you can't get your hands on any tomatoes apart from the almost tasteless supermarket variety, then you'd better add some tomato paste or puree.
Taste the Ratatouille as you stir. (This is the best part of the Cook's job)
Each vegetable should be cooked slowly and separately before combining them all in one pot towards the end of the cooking time.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
I'm giving approximate measures for these vegetables, it makes little difference in the end if you use more, or less, of one vegetable over another. If this is your first ratatouille, follow these measures (roughly).
- 500 g - 1 lb of tomatoes
- 500 g - 1 lb of eggplants
- 500 g - 1 lb of zucchinis
- 500 g - 1 lb of capsicums
- 4 medium size onions
- 4 cloves of garlic
- Olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Slice the onions finely and chop the garlic
- Rinse all your fresh vegetables and chop them up roughly.
- Heat some olive oil in a large cooking pot and saute the eggplants. Put them aside onto a plate when when they're cooked through, about 8 minutes
- Saute the capsicums and zucchini and put them aside.
- Saute the finely sliced onions until they become slightly coloured. Add on the diced tomatoes and cook for about five minutes.
- Combine all the cooked eggplants, capsicums, zucchini, onions and tomatoes into a large pot with a heavy base. You can add your sprinkling of herbs now.
- Cover the cooking pot and allow the vegetables to stew (low heat) for thirty minutes. Stir everything down frequently until everything is merged.
- At the end of the thirty minutes, stir the chopped garlic into the ratatouille. Cook for another ten minutes. Your ratatouille is ready to serve.
Cook Ratatouille on your Stove Top
You can use the top of your stove to cook ratatouille, or just pop it in the oven. This is particularly useful if you're already using the oven for another dish.
Already Using the Oven?
Bake your Ratatouille
Don't want to stand at the stove stirring? (Remember the word ratatouille itself is from the French to stir).
- Slice the onions finely and chop the garlic
- Rinse all your fresh vegetables and chop them up roughly
- Heat some olive oil in a large cooking pot and sauté the eggplants. Put them aside onto a plate when when they're cooked through, about 8 minutes
- Sauté the capsicums and zucchini and put them aside
- Sauté the finely sliced onions until they become slightly coloured. Add on the diced tomatoes and cook for about five minutes
Now, you place them all into a casserole dish for oven baking.
Cook in a low oven for about an hour.
Cook Ratatouille in your Oven - Pop it in and Serve
What does Herbes de Provence mean?
My daughter cut out a recipe for ratatouille from a magazine, a recipe which included Herbes de Provence.
I've seen dried herb mixtures in bottles called Herbes de Provence but I don't know what relation they may have to Provencal cooking. Some company began to market these in the 1980s but, apart from having a fanciful name, dried and packaged herbs really have very little connection with the original.
If we lived in the South of France we could use thyme, fennel, savory, basil and rosemary. Seeing as most of us live elsewhere, use fresh herbs which are growing in your region. Your herbs will suit your vegetables.
Thyme is common, and rosemary grows just about anywhere. My basil is a summer plant but I use a little mint in its place. To flavour ratatouille, use herbs which will complement tomatoes and don't be too heavy handed.
You can't go wrong with parsley. Italian (flat-leaf) parsley looks and tastes good in this dish.
Ratatouille on your Plate
Serve with some crusty bread. Delicious!
Ratatouille is great topped with Parmesan cheese! Use it as a sauce over pasta. Add mushrooms in the last ten minutes for a different taste
Add tofu and serve with steamed rice, or serve over noodles.
Ratatouille also freezes very well if you want to make up a batch.
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I've often made a slow-cooked ratatouille. Here's my recipe which has worked well for me and saved me from hanging over the stove when I prefer to sit outside.
The full menu is chicken breasts with lime,cider and coriander (cilantro), zesty ratatouille of seasonal vegetables followed by rich chocolate Kahlua cake. All made in the slow cooker!
How about you?
Is Ratatouille the easiest stew in the world?
© 2009 Susanna Duffy