Recently I was chided for my never having prepared ratatouille. It’s true. Aunt Laura called me out for my complete, and apparently intentional, oversight for never having made this traditional French vegetable stew featuring eggplant as its star performer.
What was I to do, except anticipate the late summer harvest of eggplants and as soon as was possible gather all the necessary fresh-from-the-garden ingredients and make my own version?! I am relieved to let you, as well as Aunt Laura, know that I hope to be back in the good graces of the self-respecting sorts who frequent this blog.
It’s true: I made my very own ratatouille!
I confess, I am certain eating my ratatouille was not nearly as euphoric as the food critic experienced in the Disney movie Ratatouille, but given some time and practice I could easily get to that level.
As I read through several recipes and variations on the common theme, eggplant is the staple ingredient, without which you don’t really have ratatouille. So if you’re short on vegetables, just don’t be short on eggplant as it’s the main one you’ll need to authenticate your dish. Other than that – use what you’ve got.
My list was simple:
- green pepper
Yup. That was it. Nothing more. Unless you count salt and pepper and a few bay leaves. I served it with brown rice, but it could just as easily be served with bread, pasta, potatoes, or nothing else at all.
Preparation was the chopping of the vegetables, but once everything was in the common pot I went and did something else for 45 minutes while it all cooked down into the yumminess we soon devoured.
While I don’t normally repeat dishes, I will be making regular exceptions for ratatouille. It’s fast to put together, smells amazing while it’s simmering, puts to great use the eggplant proliferating in your garden, and possesses apparent rapturous powers to transport you to another moment in time (see movie clip above).
A note about the tomatoes: I had fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden so used those and loved the pleasant bursts when I bit into one that hadn't already split in the cooking process, but use what you've got available.
- Onion - 1 large, chopped
- Garlic Cloves - 4-5, chopped
- Green Pepper - 2, chopped
- Zucchini - 2 medium, chopped
- Eggplant - 1 large, cubed
- Tomatoes - 1-2 medium, chopped
- Bay Leaves - 2-3
- Salt & Pepper - to taste
- Chop all your veggies, separating the onion and garlic to be prepared first.
- Sautee onion & garlic in a minimal amount of olive oil.
- Add remaining veggies and bay leaves, stirring to coat.
- Cover and simmer veggies, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and mixture resembles stew-like consistency.
- Serve hot with starch (or none) of your choosing.