Ratatouille

Ratatouille

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery
Serves
4-6

Summer vegetables were never combined better than in this colourful French medley so popular in Provence. Even when you have a surfeit of tomatoes, peppers and zucchini in salads, these same vegetables cooked in a ratatouille will tempt the most jaded appetite.

Ratatouille is a most versatile dish. It may be eaten cold, with cold meats or hard-boiled eggs, or simply with bread, as a dip. Or it may be eaten hot, as an accompaniment to grilled or roast lamb, pork chops or steaks (although lamb seems best suited to the accompaniment of this robust, garlicky flavour). A plain omelette is enhanced by ratatouille; a quick and easy lunch or supper dish is made by breaking eggs into hollows in a pan of hot ratatouille, and covering the pan until the eggs are set.

To prepare: The easy way to make ratatouille is simply to layer the prepared vegetables in a pan, starting with sliced onions, then eggplants, peppers, zucchini and tomatoes. Season each layer with salt and pepper and drizzle of olive oil, tuck a few whole garlic cloves between the layers and cook over low heat for about 1 hour. Remove lid towards the end of cooking to allow excess liquid to evaporate. Proportions of each vegetable are not too important in this method; nor does it matter if there are no zucchini, but there must be tomatoes.

This recipe is a little more time-consuming than the simple method, but it gives an even better result as the vegetables retain their fresh taste and texture.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 eggplants, cubed
coarse salt
2 large onions, finely chopped
125ml olive oil
2 peppers, cored, seeded and cut into fine strips
4 zucchini, cut into 5 mm slices
2 garlic cloves
freshly ground black pepper
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and quartered
parsley, finely chopped

Method

  1. Place eggplant cubes in a colander, sprinkle with coarse salt and leave for 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Cook onions in oil in a large saucepan until soft and golden. Add eggplant cubes, and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add peppers, zucchini and garlic, season with pepper, cover and cook gently for about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes longer.
  4. Serve warm or chilled, sprinkled with finely chopped parsley. Ratatouille keeps well in the refrigerator for 3–4 days. Store covered.
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