Here’s the extent of what I knew about Ratatouille before attempting this recipe.
1.) It’s French.
2.) It involves vegetables.
3.) There’s a Parisian rat that really knows how to cook it well. Oh wait, that was a movie.
Thanks to an abundant harvest from my generous mother’s garden, I was able to attempt my first Ratatouille and there was no better time to do so than during the ten-day “Cook for Julia” event for PBS. Here’s what I learned from making it.
1.) It’s labor intensive and takes a long time.
2.) I can spell it now.
3.) It’s delicious.
• 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into sticks about half an inch wide and three inches long
• 1 medium zucchini, peeled and cut to match the eggplant
• 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
• 5 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup diced yellow onions
• 2 medium sliced green peppers
• 2 cloves garlic, mashed
• 1 pound firm, red ripe tomatoes
• 3 tablespoons minced parsley
Place eggplant and zucchini in a large bowl. Toss with one teaspoon salt. Let stand for 30 minutes.
At the end of the time, there will be some juice in the bottom of the bowl. Drain, and pat dry vegetables thoroughly with paper towels. Set aside.
Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and set to boil. Drop tomatoes, one at a time, into the boiling water for 10 seconds each. Remove. Peel skins off tomatoes.
Slice them in half widthwise, and squeeze out juice and seeds over wastebasket. Set juiced tomatoes aside.
Once the eggplant and zucchini are dried and ready, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium-high heat in deep-set pan to prevent oil splashing. When it’s hot, sauté zucchini and eggplant in oil for about five minutes or until just lightly brown. Place just enough vegetables in pan to cover the bottom. Remove to side dish. Repeat until all zucchini and eggplant are cooked.
Reduce heat to medium. In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, until they are tender but not browned. Stir in garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
Slice the juiced tomato halves. Lay them over the peppers and onions. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to render their juices. Uncover, baste the tomatoes with their juices, raise the heat and boil for several minutes until the juice nearly evaporates.
Grease a casserole dish. Layer one-third of the tomato mixture in the bottom and sprinkle with one tablespoon of the parsley. Arrange half the eggplant/zucchini mixture on top, then another third of the tomato mixture and another tablespoons of parsley. Finish with the rest of the eggplant/zucchini mixture and the rest of the tomato mixture and parsley.
Cover and place in oven for 10 minutes. Raise the heat to 350 degrees. Uncover the veggies, gently stir, and cook for 15 minutes more.
For more recipes from the Cooking for Julia event on PBS, click here!