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Recipe File: Ratatouille
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Cooking For Engineers



Joined: 10 May 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 4:44 am    Post subject: Recipe File: Ratatouille Reply with quote

With Ratatouille (a new animated movie from Pixar) coming out in a couple weeks, I thought it would be fitting for me to present a recipe for Ratatouille (a dish from Provence). This is a wonderfully flavorful vegetable dish that can be served as either a side or as a main entree.

There are a variety of recipes for Ratatouille and the ingredients often change from cook to cook, but most contain eggplant (aubergine), garlic, onions, zucchini (Italian squash or marrows), and bell peppers. Usually the recipe is seasoned with Herbes de Provence, but (as in this recipe) it can be as simple as parsley and basil. Often the individual vegetable components are cooked separately in olive oil, but I like this recipe that cooks the vegetables together.

I adapted this recipe from the Culinary Institute of America's newest book - Vegetables: Recipes and Techniques from the World's Premier Culinary College (which I will review soon).

To begin, assemble the ingredients: 6 garlic cloves, 5 medium button or brown mushrooms (I prefer brown for more flavor), 1 medium zucchini, 5 sprigs of Italian parsley, 4 sprigs of basil, 1 medium onion, 1 can diced tomatoes (or 2 tomatoes peeled, seeded, and diced), chicken or vegetable stock (we'll need 3/4 cup or 180mL), 1 Tbs. tomato paste, 1 medium green bell pepper, and 1 large eggplant (about 1 pound or 450 g). Drain the canned tomatoes.


Wash and scrub all the vegetables. Remove the parsley and basil leaves from their stems. Dice the green bell pepper, eggplant, and onion. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise then slice into 1/4-in. (1/2 cm) segments. Quarter the mushrooms. Chop the parsley and the basil.


Start cooking by heating olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and saute until the garlic smell intensifies, about one minute.


Add the diced onion and continue to saute until they turn translucent, about 4 more minutes.


Once the onions are translucent, add 1 Tbs. tomato paste. The tomato paste will be in a clump and will take a bit of stirring and pressing to get it to spread out and cover the onions and garlic.


As you work at spreading the paste out and mixing it with the onions and garlic, the paste will cook and darken in color. Once some of the paste starts to still to the pan and brown, it's time to add the stock (about one minute).


Pour in 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock and stir until the broth begins to simmer. Using your spatula or utensil, scrub the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits of garlic, onion, or tomato paste.


Add the diced eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Stir to combine thoroughly and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring every couple minutes to promote even heating.


The eggplant will release a lot of liquid (slowly) into the pot and it's in this liquid that you'll want to simmer the other ingredients in. To evenly cook all the ingredients, you'll have to stir it to make sure the vegetables spend time touching eggplant liquid. As a bonus, the flavors mix amazingly well during this process.


The eggplant will mostly be falling apart at this point, but the zucchini, bell peppers, and mushrooms should be tender but not yet mushy.


Add the diced tomatoes and stir in. After about a minute, the tomatoes will have heated through. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting.


Stir in the chopped parsley and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Although ratatouille is usually served hot, we love eating this dish cold (usually at room temperature) with freshly toasted slices of a baguette especially during the summer.

Ratatouille (serves 4 to 6)
2 Tbs. olive oilsaute until aromatic over medium heat (1 min)saute until translucent (4-5 min)mix in and cook until color deepens (1 min)deglaze pansimmer, stirring often until vegetables are tender (10-12 min)stir in and heat until warm (1 min)stir in and take off heatseason to taste
6 cloves garlicmince
1 medium (200 g) oniondice
1 Tbs. (16 g) tomato paste
3/4 cup (180 mL) chicken or vegetable stock
1 large (450 g) eggplantdice
1 medium (140 g) zucchiniquarter & slice
5 medium (100 g) brown mushrooms (cremini)quarter
1 medium (150 g) green bell pepperdice
14-1/2 oz. (411 g) can diced tomatoesdrain
5 sprigs Italian (flat-leaf) parsleychop
4 sprigs Basilchop
salt & pepper
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 4:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking for Pixar's Ratatouille as well?
Here's the trailer and a 10 minute featurette.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just wanna let you kno..do you mean 'once the onions are translucent' instead of tomatoes?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
Just wanna let you kno..do you mean 'once the onions are translucent' instead of tomatoes?

Thanks! I fixed that error.
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Ishbel



Joined: 10 Apr 2007
Posts: 41
Location: UK

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael - I've never had mushrooms in ratouille- either here or in France - but it might be an interesting addition.

It is often served cold in Provence, and I like to do that, too.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I once ate at a family's house in France where they served ratatouille over scrambled eggs. I don't know how common this is, but it was awesome.

I like my rat flavored with rosemary, instead of basil, if anyone is interested in variations on this recipe.
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bruno6012
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 5:49 pm    Post subject: ratatouille Reply with quote

I am surprised that you put mushroom in the ratatouille. My advise is rather to add paprika.
When you do it with eggs and paprika it is called piperade it is a recipe from the basque country.
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Ishbel



Joined: 10 Apr 2007
Posts: 41
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love piperade - but have only ever made it with a little thyme - do you use Spanish paprika (I know the dish is from the French side of the Basque country!)
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Jim



Joined: 25 Jun 2007
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, that looks REALLY good. I usually won't touch anything cooked with eggplant, but those pictures are convincing me to change my mind!

Also, on the subject of ratatouille--we're hosting a contest over at Recipe4Living. Whoever submits the best recipe wins free movie tickets, so if you're interested, feel free to enter!
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Gabbie
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 6:46 pm    Post subject: Try Roasting Peppers & Eggplant Reply with quote

When I make Ratatoiulle, I always place my green pepper over the burner of my stove and turn it on to high, then turn so it blackens it all the way around, then scrape off the blackend skin with a fork or grapefruit spoon and slice, I add this usually when it is finished cooking, since the flame cooks the pepper.

Also, if you dice the eggplant, sprinkle generously with salt, let sit for 1/2 hour, then rinse and bake or cook, then it will draw out the moisture and stay more firm.
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OUCH
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 11:19 am    Post subject: I'll try it! Reply with quote

I really hate eggplant, however, it's looking so good I'll give it a try!
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2007 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How much dried parsley/oregano should i substitute for the fresh in this dish?
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redwoodsorrel
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:38 am    Post subject: Ratatouille recipe Reply with quote

My favorite ratatouille recipe is the one in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It's time-consuming, because it includes a process of sweating the liquid out of the eggplant and zucchini before cooking them and then slowly cooking all the vegetables together in layers until most of the tomato liquid has evaporated, but when it's finished it's glorious and intense.
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Rebecca
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've cooked with eggplant before and it came out bitter. Someone told me that I should always salt and drain the eggplant before using it to drain off the bitter juices... I notice that you don't do that in this recipe. What's the deal?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rebecca wrote:
I've cooked with eggplant before and it came out bitter. Someone told me that I should always salt and drain the eggplant before using it to drain off the bitter juices... I notice that you don't do that in this recipe. What's the deal?

I've salted eggplant before to reduce the bitterness and it never seemed to work as well as suggested. After some experimentation, I now believe that salting eggplant serves the purpose of firming up the structure of the eggplant flesh so it retains its form better during cooking. This practice also helps mask the bitterness a little, but the bitterness is not greatly reduced. The practice of salting eggplant was probably practiced to firm up the flesh (as it is in many recipes) and then later was attributed to reducing bitterness. The real secret is to just buy young eggplant (at least the common and asian varieties are not bitter when young). Older eggplants (they feel lighter/hollower and may have skin that is more shriveled and not tight and plump) tend to be much more bitter. Some other varieties of eggplant may also tend to be bitter too. Avoid these for this dish.

If you wish the diced eggplant to retain their shape more in this dish, then spend the time to salt them (slice them into rounds and sprinkle salt on them and let them sit on a wire rack set in a sheet pan for 1 to 2 hours). This should draw out some of the liquid (you'll see a little bit in the pan if you're lucky) but mostly serve to draw moisture out of the cells and into the gaps between them. This helps prevent the eggplant from soaking up an excessive amount of liquid and oil which leads to their falling apart. At this point, just rinse off the excess salt and dice.
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