Ratatouille: but make it authentic
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Before last year, whenever someone would use the word Ratatouille, I would immediately think of the Disney Pixar movie, which is one of my favs! But I had never tried the dish until my mother in-law decided to make it last year, upon finding out that I hadn't had it before.
Turns, out, this was one of her mother, Sylviane's (amazing!) recipes that she's been eating for as long as she could remember. Sylviane, (or as we called her, Nanou) was an amazing person and a fantastic cook who came over as a war bride from Algiers many years ago. Over the years I've been lucky enough to enjoy many of her recipes and I'm so glad I get to add this one to that list because this recipe is a keeper.
Like many French recipes, it takes simple ingredients and puts them together in a way that really makes them sing in perfect harmony. This is as healthy as it is delicious and a dish you'll find yourself coming back to, not only for every day eating but one that's special enough for holidays and dinner parties to really "wow" your guests!
Tips for how to make ratatouille
- The eggplant and zucchini takes a little longer to cook in this dish so we always saute that first and remove from the pan before adding the other vegetables.
- Be sure to stir the ratatouille periodically as it simmers (while it's covered) to prevent sticking. But don't overdo it either.
- Always taste before serving and adjust seasonings as needed.
Helpful ingredient information:
- Vegetables: This is a flavorful mix of eggplant, zucchini, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic.
- Seasonings: Fresh thyme, parsley and basil combined with salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes round out the delicious flavors of this stew.
What is Ratatouille?
Ratatouille is a classic vegetable stew originating in Provence France. It is traditionally cooked stovetop, starting by cooking each vegetable separately in olive oil before combining them and simmering together.
What size for you cut the vegetables?
Around 1-2 inches. Some Ratatouille recipes chop them much smaller or slice and bake but we prefer larger chunks. I gave specific recommendations in the recipe but feel free to alter it to your liking.
Do you need to peel the eggplant?
We prefer it that way.
Shouldn't it be sliced and stacked like in the movie?
I've seen recipes that cook it that way (usually in the oven) but that's not how our family does it.
How to serve Ratatouille?
We typically enjoy this on it's own, but it would also be great over rice or pasta. And make sure you have a nice crusty piece of bread to soak up all those delicious juices.
Can this be made ahead?
Yes! Like soups and stews, this gets even better as it sits and can be made up to a couple days ahead and reheats very well.
Leftovers and reheating:
This will last covered in the fridge for up to 5 days and reheats well in a pan over medium heat or in the microwave.
Ingredients that can be prepped ahead:
- Chop onions
- Chop peppers
- Cut zucchini
- Clean herbs and remaining vegetables.
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Nanou's Real Deal Ratatouille recipe
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil + a little more only if you need it
- 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut to 2 inch chunks
- 2 red or green bell peppers, seeds removed and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 2 medium zucchini or yellow squash, sliced and cubed
- 1 large onion, large dice
- 4 roma tomatoes, seeded and large dice
- 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional for heat)
- 2 Tablespoon chopped fresh parley
- 2 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in large saute pan over medium high heat.
- Add eggplant and saute until just starting to brown, stirring often- about 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan.
- Add remaining Tablespoon oil and saute zucchini for 5 minutes and remove from pan.
- Add a tiny bit more oil (only if needed) then add onions and peppers, Saute to soften about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and thyme and cook about 3 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, garlic, salt and black pepper and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cook 5 more minutes..
- Add eggplant and zucchini back into pan. Partially cover and reduce heat to low and cook around 30-40 more minutes, stirring periodically.
- Stir in parsley and basil 2 minutes before you finish cooking.
- Taste and adjust seasonings and serve immediately.
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