Hey, Key Lime Coconutters! Allison here, stopping in to add another recipe which we used in our Lucky Pantry grocery delivery boxes this month. September is a perfect time for this ratatouille, while all of the vegetables are in season and being harvested. Tomato, eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, onion – that’s almost the whole garden!
Traditional ratatouille is super easy. The only change I have made is making the entire dish on the stove top, in one pan. To make the strictly traditional ratatouille, place all of the diced and sauteed vegetables into a casserole dish and bake. Cooking it either way, this is a wonderful recipe that you’ll want to make many times. I include instructions for both methods in the recipe below.
Ratatouille is so traditional and such an old (1870s) classic recipe in France that it’s been called “the Frenchest of all French recipes.” That’s pretty French! Like galettes, which I love, this recipe feels rustic, provincial, artisan – just good and old fashioned – you know, traditional!
For a few years, I puzzled over people slicing the vegetables and lining them up in a casserole like tian to make ratatouille (you know, like in the movie). While I was researching ratatouille recipes, I came across an article with a title that made me laugh. It perfectly explains where that movie version of ratatouille was created. The title of the Mediocre Chef blog post is “Ratatouille Two Ways: Traditional & Pixar-Style.” In the post, the authors explain that “up until the 1970s everyone made ratatouille the simple way. Then chef Michel Guérard showed everyone up and made Confit Byaldi,” also now known (at least in my house) as Pixar style ratatouille. Their article also includes the two versions of ratatouille.
The key to making ratatouille is sautéing the vegetables separately. The first time I made it, I added each vegetable into the sauté pan, on top of the previous vegetables. I could tell while I was cooking that it was harder to sauté each vegetable as the pan became more and more full (trying to keep those uncooked veggies on the bottom of the pan). Leaving the already sautéed veggies in the pan while the new ones saute makes for a longer cooking time for each vegetable, making them softer and sometimes too mushy. The flavor will be good, but the texture will be less desirable.
Once each vegetable is sautéed separately, you simply put all the vegetables together in the stove top pot to simmer, or put them into a casserole dish to bake. This will yield the very best, and most traditional, ratatouille.
In addition to sautéing each vegetable separately, my best ratatouille advice is: dice all of the vegetables before you begin cooking. This isn’t one of those recipes where you can prepare the next step while the rest is cooking. This is more like assembly line sautéing, so have those veggies ready!
Some people like to serve ratatouille the day after it’s cooked, to let the flavors blend fully. I think it tastes great the second day, but maybe the vegetables are slightly softer than the first day. If you want to save yours for the next day, remove the bay leaves, let the cooked ratatouille cool completely, then place, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.
To reheat on the stove top, place the ratatouille into a large soup pan or dutch oven and reheat on low to medium heat, stirring constantly, until heated through. To reheat the casserole in the oven, preheat your oven to 400° F (preheating reduces the time the food is baked – which is a good thing!). Cover the casserole dish and bake for 10 to 20 minutes, checking the center of the casserole half way through to see if it’s heated. We like to add noodles to our leftover ratatouille or serve it over rice.
We eat my mom’s Skillet Tomato Cornbread with our ratatouille and it’s a perfect pairing!
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Kitchen Basics: Cooking with Eggplant
|Prep Time||15 minutes|
|Cook Time||45 minutes|
- olive oil
- 1 onion diced, I use yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 yellow or green bell pepper diced
- 1 eggplant ends cut off, cubed (no need to peel or seed)
- 2 zucchini cubed
- 3 tomatoes diced, no need to remove seeds, juice or pulp
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon herbes de provence optional, to replace the oregano & thyme
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar optional
- 2 bay leaves remove before serving
- Dice all of your vegetables before beginning.
- In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic (withhold the garlic until later for the baking method) until the onions are beginning to become translucent.
- Remove the onions and garlic from the pan. (If baking, remove the onions to your casserole dish.)
- Add one more tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and sauté both bell peppers until they are softened, then remove from the pan or place into the casserole dish.
- Sauté the eggplants, then remove from the pan. Then sauté the zucchinis.
- Add all of the cooked vegetables back into the soup pot or dutch oven.
- Add the diced tomatoes, including any juice or seeds.
- Add the salt, pepper, oregano and thyme (or replace the oregano and thyme with herbes de provence).
- Add 1 teaspoon of sugar (optional) and carefully stir the vegetables to blend the sugar in. Add 2 bay leaves.
- Cover the pot and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables are cooked thoroughly. Find and remove the two bay leaves. Serve warm or at room temp.
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- With all of the sautéed vegetables in the casserole dish, add the uncooked diced tomatoes, including any pulp or juice, to the casserole.
- Add salt, pepper, oregano and thyme (or substitute herbes de provence for the oregano and thyme). Add 1 teaspoon of sugar (optional) and the uncooked garlic, stirring gently to combine all.
- Place two bay leaves on the top of the pot, pushing into the vegetables gently.
- Bake, covered, for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and remove the two bay leaves. Serve warm or at room temp.
- For both methods, the ratatouille can be refrigerated to serve the next day. Reheat the casserole, covered, in an oven preheated to 400° F, for 10 to 20 minutes, checking the center of the casserole halfway to see if it's heated. To reheat on the stove top, warm on low to medium heat, stirring gently from time to time, until the vegetables are heated through.
Follow guest blogger Allison Smith: Twitter and Instagram: @roosterandhenstore @luckypantry and @picnicpops
I hope you enjoy this recipe! Leave any feedback in comments below. Also, share your comments on Instagram: @key_lime_coconut or on Twitter: @keylime_coconut. We love seeing hashtags #keylimecoconut #keylimecoconutblog and #beachbumvegan when you try our recipes.