Posted by: Part-Time Audiophile | August 6, 2009

Ratatouille

I have tried. Hard. And no matter what I do, how I make it, what I change up, whether I roast the vegetables first or not, I simply … DO … NOT … LIKE … ratatouille. It’s just gross. At it’s best, it’s veggie soup without the broth. At worst (and by far the most common), it’s partially digested lumpy baby mush. And who really likes eggplant, anyway? Ewww.

It seems to be de rigeur to make this dish in just about any French cooking techniques class, but for the life of me I can’t imagine why. I guess it’s because “vegetables” happen early in the curriculum, early enough that knife skills are still being over emphasized, and ratatouille has a bazillion things to chop up. Not that it matters, since when it’s properly cooked, none of that precision dicing is going to be visible. Like I said, this is mush.

Ok, fine. Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

  • Zucchini: md dice
  • Yellow squash: med dice
  • Eggplant: large dice
  • Fresh tomato: chopped
  • Red/green bell pepper: med dice
  • Onion: med dice
  • Garlic cloves: whole, smashed
  • Tomato paste
  • Tomato juice
  • Salt, pepper, bouquet garni

Note about quantities: generally, ratatouille is “equal parts” of all the veggies. So, if you’re going to use a single zucchini, use comparable amounts of every other vegetable, with the exception of the garlic. 3-4 cloves should be more than enough for a pot of 1 zucchini, 1 squash, 1 eggplant, 1 onion ratatouille.

Preparation

In a skillet on low heat, sweat the pepper and onion. Use a decent EVO if you have it. Add a pinch of salt to get the juices going. This should take about 15-20 minutes.

In a large bowl, drizzle the eggplant, zucchini & squash and toss to lightly coat. Spread out on sheet pan and broil to add some color and dry them out. Watch this closely — 5 minutes may not do much, but 20 may char them. Color = good. Char = not good. Check & stir ever 5 minutes.

Add garlic cloves to the skillet.

Add ~2T of tomato paste to skillet, and work it to cook it through. You want the sweet tomato smell to give way to some nuttiness. Add chopped tomatoes and broiled veggies.

Add ~1c of tomato juice.

Add bouquet garni, season.

Optionally, add (pitted) olives.

Optionally, add sprig of fresh rosemary.

Simmer on low, covered, for about an hour till all veggies are cooked and the veggie flavors have had time to meld. And turn to a mushy slop.

Ratatouille should be soupy, but not runny, and all veggies should be cooked to the point where the bits of veg are soft and cut edges are indistinct.

Top with chiffonade of fresh basil & serve.

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