Ratatouille is a southern French dish made from eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. There are many different variations, and today you can find ratatouille pies, soups, and quiches. I like this version adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Volume 1), Knopf, 1971, because it preserves the integrity of each type of vegetable and is moist without being soupy. It has the additional advantage of using a small amount of oil because of the initial roasting of the eggplant and zucchini.
1/2 pound zucchini, scrubbed, and sliced into 1/8-inch slices
1/2 pound eggplant, scrubbed, and sliced into thin (3/8-inch) slices, about 4-inches by 1-inch
3 T. olive oil
1/2 pound thinly sliced yellow onions
1 sliced green bell pepper
2 cloves mashed garlic
1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and juiced
3 T. parsley
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray two cookie sheets with olive oil or another vegetable oil spray. Put the zucchini and eggplant slices on the cookie sheets. Brush very lightly with olive oil, and bake until slightly brown on each side. In a skillet, cook onions and peppers slowly in 2 T. olive oil for about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, and season to taste. Slice tomato pulp into 3/8-inch strips. Place tomato slices over onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Uncover, baste with the tomato juices, raise heat, and boil for several minutes, until most of the juice has evaporated. Put 1/3 of tomato mixture in the bottom of a large pot. Sprinkle with 1 T. parsley. Arrange 1/2 of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half of the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put the rest of the eggplant and zucchini, and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Correct seasoning. Raise heat for 15 minutes, basting if dry. Serve cold, warm, or hot.
these methods take longer.....
FOR THE TRADITIONALISTS....
This Niçoise dish is much more than a vegetable soup. It can be prepared fairly quickly by cooking everything together at the same time, but that needs to be done in the correct sequence to not miss out the art and the flavour of the dish.
It's also true that the recipe can legitimately vary (somewhat) according to tastes, but the variations should be based on experience. The volume is also very variable.
"Too much" doesn't apply to ratatouille. Cook it the first time, and eat it hot as the main course; then have it again later as a cold hors-d'oeuvre. (It benefits from being made the day before.) In the summer time, it's great as a cold main-course dish. It keeps for several days in the refridgerator. Ratatouille is good served with couscous grain (semoule) or rice.
Recipe (12 servings; makes about 4.5 litres)
tomatoes (1.6 kg)
eggplant - aubergines
(700 g) 
zucchini - courgettes longues
(700 g) 
green bell pepper - poivrons verts
(700 g) [2-3]
onion (1 kg) garlic - d'ail
Herbes de Provence (basilic, thyme, parsley)
Ratatouille can be eaten hot or cold, and it freezes and can be re-heated well. You can make it early for a party, and keep it warm or simmering for a couple of hours.
This method, or a variation, takes fewer pots, is somewhat faster, yet keeps the flavors well and is commonly used. About 65 minutes cooking.
- Peel and drain the tomatoes. * (don't mind the seeds)
- Chop the onion and garlic. Clean the bell pepper, cut into small strips.
- In a large cooking pot with thick bottom, put in olive oil, onions and chopped garlic. Add in the bell pepper. Cook for 20 minutes, stiring frequently.
- Add the peeled tomatoes and herbs de Provence. Stirr well and cook for another 15 minutes.
- Cut the eggplant into rondelles. Cut the un-peeled zucchini into rondelles.
- Add the eggplant and zucchini to the pot. Cook for about 30 minutes.
* Peeling tomatoes: cut out the stem cores; drop the whole tomatoes into boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove into a collander. Make an X cut in the top, then peel off the skin.
- Cooking Pot. We use a large pressure cooker, without the pressure.
Cut the eggplant into rondelles; keep separate. Peel the zucchini, cut into rondelles, keep separate. Clean the bell pepper, cut into small strips, keep separate. Chop the onion, keep separate.
Peel, de-seed and drain the tomatoes. *
Using four separate cooking pots, put some olive oil in the bottom; put in the eggplant, zucchini, pepper, and onion into their own pots; sprinkle some flour onto the eggplant and onto the zucchini. Put the four pots on to cook slowly. Each cooks for about 30 minutes, but test and cook each until correctly soft.
In a large cooking pot with a thick bottom, put in olive oil, chopped garlic, herbes de Provence. Squeeze the tomatoes in by hand. Cook slowly until you have a thick tomato sauce.
Add the four separately cooked vegetables to the tomato sauce, mix thoroughly and heat. Pour off the excess oil from the top. It's ready to serve.
The first couple of times we made our ratatouille we used the pure "Classical" method, juggling our separate pots and being astounded when our chaos resulted in success. Having done it the "true" way, we then used the "Common Method" a few times: a single pot but everything still very time-sensitive. Our current method is much simpler
, and produces the same great results. When we serve it to our neighbors and local friends it gets good reviews.
- Prepare a large cooking pot with thick bottom, put in plenty olive oil.
- Chop the onion, put it into the pot and start it cooking slowly. Chop and add the garlic.
- Wash the bell pepper, cut into small strips, and stir it in.
- Wash the tomatoes, chop them up in big chunks, and throw them in (no peeling) and stir in well.
- Add the herbs de Provence and pepper. If the tomatoes are flavorless (all too common these days), we add a small can of condensed tomato sauce at this time.
- Cut the eggplant and the zucchini into big chunks, then throw them into the pot. They then need to be stirred down frequently until they've merged with the rest of the ingredients.
This takes about an hour, from when we first start chopping until everything is in the pot together. We then cook slowly for one to two hours, depending on how chunky you want it and how eager you are to try it.
1 kg = 2.2 lbs
0.45 kg = 1 lb
1 lt = 1.06 qt
0.95 lt = 1 qt
30 g = 1 oz = 2 Tbs
60 g = 2 oz = 1/4 cup
115 g = 4 oz = 1/2 cup 180 g = 6 oz = 3/4 cup
225 g = 8 oz = 1 cup
450 g = 16 oz = 1 pint
Ratatouille with MEAT
1 pound ground sirloin, round or chuck
3 meduim zucchini, washed, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds
1 small eggplant, peeled and diced and salted
1 onion, diced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 green peppers
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
1 teaspoon fresh or 1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese (optional)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)
1 cup or 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced canned/jarred mushrooms
salt and peper to taste
Brown beef in a skillet using minimum oil if necessary. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Peel and dice eggplant; salt and put aside. (rinse salt after 15 mins.) Chop onions and garlic; slice zucchini and peppers. Salt and pepper the entire mixture.
Pour 3 Tbsp olive oil into skillet and when hot, add all the the veggies except the mushrooms. Mix to stir until onion begins to caramelize, about 10–15 minutes. Add mushrooms, sauté for another 5 minutes. Add browned beef, canned tomatoes and herbs and simmer an additional 10 minutes, or until desired consistency. Before you are ready to serve, top with cheeses.
Serves 6. 6 net grams of carbohydrate per serving.