Episode 113: Vegetable Bounty
Recipe: Classic Ratatouille
Ratatouille is the epitome of Provençal vegetable stews. The vegetables are sautéed individually in oil before being stewed so they keep their shape and texture. If you prefer, though, you can put all the cubed vegetables into a casserole and top with the seasonings and water; cooked this way, the dish is much less time-consuming to prepare. Ratatouille is excellent reheated, and it is superb cold as an hors d’oeuvre topped with small black olives and olive oil.
About 1/2 cup olive oil
1 eggplant (1 1/4 pounds), trimmed but not peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
3 medium zucchini (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
12 ounces onions (2–3) cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound green bell peppers (2–3), cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares (about 3 cups)
4–5 ripe tomatoes, peeled, halved, seeded, and coarsely cubed (about 4 cups)
5–6 garlic cloves, crushed and very finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in one or, better, two large skillets. First sauté the eggplant cubes until browned, about 8 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large heavy casserole. (The eggplant will absorb more oil while cooking than the other vegetables.) Then sauté the zucchini cubes until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to the casserole. Add about 1/4 cup more oil to the pan and sauté the onions and peppers together for about 6 minutes. Add them to the casserole.
Add the tomatoes, garlic, water, salt, and pepper to the casserole and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 1 hour.
Remove the cover, increase the heat to medium, and cook for another 20 minutes to reduce some of the liquid; stir once in a while to prevent scorching. Let the ratatouille rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.