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.
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 stick 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 oil||saute until aromatic over medium heat (1 min)||saute until translucent (4-5 min)||mix in and cook until color deepens (1 min)||deglaze pan||simmer, stirring often until vegetables are tender (10-12 min)||stir in and heat until warm (1 min)||stir in and take off heat||season to taste|
|6 cloves garlic||mince|
|1 medium (200 g) onion||dice|
|1 Tbs. (16 g) tomato paste|
|3/4 cup (180 mL) chicken or vegetable stock|
|1 large (450 g) eggplant||dice|
|1 medium (140 g) zucchini||quarter & slice|
|5 medium (100 g) brown mushrooms (cremini)||quarter|
|1 medium (150 g) green bell pepper||dice|
|14-1/2 oz. (411 g) can diced tomatoes||drain|
|5 sprigs Italian (flat-leaf) parsley||chop|
|4 sprigs Basil||chop|
|salt & pepper|