No, not the Disney rat. Ratatouille is a French peasant vegetable stew that originated in the Provence region in the 18th century. The name “ratatouille” comes from the verb t0uiller, which means to stir-up. The ingredients are a medley of summer vegetables; so basically, you simply stir-up a bunch of vegetables for this sophisticated-sounding dish. In fact, it’s very simple and hearty, a dish of the fields.
Happily, ratatouille freezes well, helping extend the summer season into winter when the garden is dormant. I have made double batches and froze most of it (we always have to eat some of it!), but if you double, be sure not to skimp on the garlic and onions.
The recipes calls for zucchini, but yellow summer squash work just as well and add another color. Red and green peppers are equally interchangeable; the only difference is that the red makes the dish a touch sweeter and adds a shot of color.
I have included two recipes that have worked well for me; the ingredients are the same, the cooking method is the difference. They taste nearly identical as well; the real difference is in texture and appearance. The roasted eggplant version is more colorful and the vegetables retain their shape more than in the recipe given to me by my neighbor. So try them both and pick your favorite!
This recipe was given to me by my former neighbor and gardener extraordinaire, Eleanor Bertrand.
2 med eggplants
3 zucchini (yellow summer squash works well, too)
2 med onions, chopped
2 green or red peppers, chopped
4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp salt (for eggplant)
¼ cup oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp oregano
¼ tsp black pepper (or more to taste)
2 bay leaves
Peel eggplant and slice into ½” thick slices, cut slices into halves or quarters depending on size. Sprinkle slices with 1 Tablespoon salt and let stand. Slice zucchini into ½” slices, halve or quarter. Rinse and pat the eggplant dry. Heat ¼ cup oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, add onion and pepper and cook until soft. Add zucchini and eggplant, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and add the garlic, salt, pepper and spices.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until veggies are almost tender, 20 – 30 minutes. Remove cover and cook gently 10 to 20 minutes until most of the liquid evaporates. Serve hot or cold. Freezes well. Serves 6.
Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille
From Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life.
1 pound eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1-inch thick rounds
1 pound zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise and sliced into ½-inch thick half-moons
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (I mince it)
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped (I use whatever kind I have on hand)
¾ tsp salt
3 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ tsp dried thyme)
1 bay leaf
¼ cup chopped fresh basil (optional, no fresh basil in October)
Preheat over to 400 degrees. Arrange eggplant rounds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Pour 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl and brush onto the eggplant, then flip the slices and brush the other side as well. Bake for 30 minutes (less if your slices are thinner), flipping the slices halfway through the baking time, until soft and slightly brown on both sides. Remove from oven and cool. Cut into rough 1-inch pieces. Set aside. (You can do this a day ahead and refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it).
Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally until golden and just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove it from the pan, leave behind any excess oil, and set zucchini aside.
If there is no oil left in the pan, add about 1 Tablespoon. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, stirring occasionally until slightly softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and garlic, stirring occasionally, until just tender but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, thyme and bay leaf, stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and zucchini, stir to incorporate, and cook until everything is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Discard bay leaf and add basil, if using.
Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 4.