Perhaps you’ve seen the movie, but when’s the last time you’ve actually prepared the dish? Ratatouille, also known as Ratatouille niçoise is a French vegetable stew consisting of tomatoes, eggplants, zucchinis, bell peppers, garlic and onions. Common herbs like parsley and basil are also often included and help create a rich flavor for the dish. It’s often made as a side dish and it can be served with a multitude of main dishes. For example, ratatouille is excellent with roast beef, chicken or a good steak.
As you can see, this recipe calls for just about the whole lot of nightshade vegetables (bell peppers, tomatoes and eggplants) is is therefore not suited for those who decided not to have any nightshades. I would tell you to substitute some vegetables, but the essence of this dish is really the tomato.
I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe that will take quite a bit of preparation for a simple vegetable stew, but that will pay off in terms of taste and satisfaction. If prepared in advance, it can also be served cold, but only if you used olive oil for the preparation because the other fats will harden and the dish will need to be reheated.
Ratatouille recipe (serves 8)
- 1 1/4 cup lard, butter, clarified butter or olive oil;
- 4 large tomatoes (plum tomatoes are best, but any kind will do);
- 2 lb eggplants, cut in 1 inch cubes;
- 2 large onions, sliced thinly;
- 3 bell peppers of assorted colors, cut into 1 inch cubes;
- 4 zucchinis, cut into 3/4 inch cubes;
- 9 garlic cloves;
- 1 cup chopped parsley;
- 20 basil leaves, cut in half;
- Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt;
- To remove the skin from the tomatoes, if using fresh tomatoes, score a X on the bottom of each one and blanch them in boiling water for a minute. Remove them from the boiling water and transfer them to a bowl of cold water. When cold enough to handle, starting where you scored them, gently remove the skin.
- Chop the tomatoes and put them in a large pot with 1/3 cup of the oil or fat with the parsley, basil and garlic. Cover the pot partially and simmer while stirring from time to time for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are well broken down.
- While the tomatoes are simmering, sprinkle some sea salt on the eggplant cubes and put them in a colander in the kitchen sink. This step helps remove some of the moisture in the eggplants. Leave them in the colander while the tomatoes are simmering.
- Soften the onions in 3 tbsp of the oil or fat for about 10 minutes with some sea salt still while the tomatoes are simmering.
- Remove the onions with a slotted spoon, set aside and cook the bell peppers in the same manner with a little more oil or fat.
- Remove the bell peppers with a slotted spoon, put them with the onions and repeat the process with the zucchini, but only for 6 minutes this time.
- Remove bell peppers and set aside with the other vegetables. Pat the eggplants dry and repeat the process, cooking them for about 7 minutes, again adding some oil or fat each time.
- Once the tomato preparation has simmered on its own long enough, add the previously cooked vegetables, season generously with sea salt and black pepper, cover and simmer for about another hour, until all the vegetables are very soft.
- Serve hot, warm or cold, with a bit of extra basil or chopped parsley on top, if desired.