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Ratatouille – Summer’s Classic Vegetable Stew

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Fall in love with this Provencal Vegetable Stew with bright colors and flavors.

Ratatouille in Zucchini Cups with Herbal - Garlicky Crumbs

A Summer stovetop stew with local eggplant, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, shallots, garlic and herbs

Fabulous to make in the summer with just picked summer produce bursting with flavor and natural antioxidants.

Ratatouille is popular among the entire Mediterranean coast as an easy summer dish cooked on the stove top – no need to heat the oven on a hot summer day.

A traditional French Provencal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice, France.

It is composed of pieces of cooked vegetables, especially eggplant, onions, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes, and garlic. One method is simply to sauté all of the vegetables together. Some cooks insist on a layering approach, where the eggplant and the zucchini are sautéed separately, while the tomatoes, onion, garlic and bell peppers are made into a sauce.

Serve suggestions:
As a side dish, stuff mushrooms, stuff zucchini, (look for 8 balls at farmers’ markets, cut in half) a filling for an omelet, top pasta or noodles, layer in a lasagne, top on garlicky bruschetta, add sliced olives, top with a herb/garlic bread crumb topping, garnish with toasted pine nuts… eat cold!
Add your favorite grains or beans to the ratatouille; top with a creamy or grated cheese and melt gently on top.

Many chefs explain “the secret of a good ratatouille is to cook the vegetables separately so each will taste truly of itself.”

My method starts with sautéing cubed eggplant from slender local multi-colored vegetables, (they are botanically a fruit!) in fruity extra virgin olive oil until golden and caramelized. Adding color (caramelization) to the eggplant is the key for a successful Ratatouille! The next ingredients – Shallots, Garlic, Zucchini, Bay Leaves and Herbs are added to the pot, (use a wide flat pot – I use a cast iron paella pan!) and cooked until softened and full of flavor. I do not always add peppers – they can overwhelm with a strong flavor profile (although add them if you please)… here I want to taste the eggplant.. zucchini… tomatoes – then add complimentary seasonings.

In Summer – if Heirloom Tomatoes are available, add them at the end, when the stew is wonderfully developed, and let them melt in. The tomatoes need not to be cooked, just warmed through.

The name “Ratatouille” is derived from french term “touiller, ” which means to toss food, to stir up.
It was originally a meal made by poor farmer’s (in essence it started out life as a peasant dish), and was prepared in the summer with fresh summer vegetables.

Traditionally, it is advisable to accompany these vegetables with a rosé wine from the vineyards of Provence or a red wine such as Vin de Pays d’Oc, or a crisp white wine.

Enjoy these wonderful flavors of summer.
~ light in calories, gluten-free, and loaded with healthful ingredients!

Karen

Heirloom Tomatoes add a deep flavor and gorgeous color to the stew

Local Vegetables from a Farmers' Market

Local Vegetables from a Farmers' Market

Sauté the eggplant, then add the vegetables

Add tomatoes and seasonings and stew together

Scoop out the insides of zucchini (these are a 8 ball variety) and steam for stuffing with ratatouille

Ratatouille ~ A wonderful Provencal Vegetarian Stew

 

 

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