Ratatouille is a Provençal French vegetable stew. The dish has several different methods of preparation. This version is more similar to the traditional Ratatouille Niçoise, with techniques like partially cooking the vegetables separately. This is taken from traditional sources, such as Larousse Gastronomique and Jacques Pepin. This allows for each vegetable to retain some of its individual flavour. This recipe is best served with crusty bread, butter and perhaps some Provençal style pork loin steaks and Syrah.
The vegetables should be diced in similar sizes, from a quarter-inch to a half-inch. Herbs de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs such as marjoram, thyme and rosemary. A bouquet garni is prepared by taking a few sprigs of thyme and parsley and a bay leaf, bundling them together, wrapping them in the leaf of a leek, and securing them with kitchen twine. Alternatively, the above ingredients could be placed in a double layer of cheesecloth and tied with kitchen twine. Any combination of the above herbs is likely to work, so whatever you have on hand is fine. If using a bouquet garni, I’d recommend adding a pinch of oregano. The fresh parsley added at the end is optional but helps to bring some fresh herb flavour. White wine might help to balance the sweetness and acidity, but again it is completely optional. If tomatoes are in season, you can use fresh tomatoes, but canned tomatoes work well. Ideally, this recipe would be made with fresh produce sourced in peak season.
This recipe is vastly different from the ratatouille depicted in the film Ratatouille. A recipe for confit byaldi in the style of Thomas Keller might be better suited if you intend on recreating the dish in the film. Confit byaldi is more similar to a Provençal vegetable tian with a piperade sauce.
- 4 cups diced summer squash (3-5 squashes, any combination of courgette, yellow squash, eight ball squash, etc.)
- 4 cups diced aubergine (1-2 aubergine, any variety)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (divided, plus more for garnish)
- 4 cups diced yellow onion (3-4 medium onions)
- 8 medium cloves of garlic, minced (3 tablespoons)
- 4 cups diced red and yellow peppers (5 peppers)
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes, blended until smooth
- 1 bouquet garni and or Herbs de Provence
- 1/4 cup of dry white wine
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Place diced squash and aubergine in a large mesh strainer over a bowl and toss with a large pinch of salt. Allow to rest and drain for at least ten minutes and up to an hour. Discard the liquid in the bowl.
In large pan, heat three tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic, along with a small pinch of salt, and cook until softened (approximately five minutes). Transfer the cooked onion and garlic mixture to a large pot.
Add an additional three tablespoons of olive oil to the same pan and heat over medium to high-heat. Add bell pepper and a small pinch of salt, and cook until softened (approximately five minutes). Transfer to the large pot.
Add another three tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat again. Add the squash and cook until softened (approximately five minutes). Add to the pot along with the pepper, onions and garlic.
Add the final three tablespoons of olive oil to the same large pan and heat and heat over medium-high heat. Add the aubergine and cook until softened (approximately five minutes). Add to the pot along with the other vegetables.
Heat the pot of vegetables over medium-high heat and add the blended tomatoes along with the bouquet garni and/or Herbs de Provence. Heat until gently boiling. Lower heat to medium-low and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste.
Remove the bouquet garni and stir in fresh parsley. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. This dish can be served immediately, but like most stews, tastes even better after a night spent in the fridge. Ratatouille can be served hot, at room temperature or cold, depending on preference.