Monday, August 17, 2009

Ratatouille (Provencal Vegetable Stew)

A good friend of mine recently gave me a large zucchini from her garden and suggested that I could use it to make Ratatouille, a vegetable stew made in France; she was also kind enough to provide me with a recipe. In the book it reads, “The classic combination of the vegetables that grow abundantly in the south of France is infinitely flexible. Use the recipe as a guide for making the most of what you have on hand.” This is exactly what I did. I replaced the eggplant with summer squash and used canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes. In the end the combination of flavors was delicious, and very healthy. I would suggest eating this with some hearty bread, or even with a side of angel hair pasta to make it more filling (not very French, but I think the Ratatouille would go great with pasta).

Ratatouille (Provencal Vegetable Stew)
Pictures by Caroline

2 medium eggplants
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, halved and diced
2 or 3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips*
2 large zucchini, cut into ½ inch slices
1 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence (I used a mixture of savory, fennel, basil and thyme)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the broiler. Cut the eggplant into ¾ inch slices, then brush the slices with olive oil on both sides and broil until lightly browned, turning once. Cut the slices into cubes.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan or flameproof casserole and cook the onion over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes until lightly golden, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, pepper and zucchini and cook for 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the tomatoes and eggplant cubes, dried herbs and salt and pepper and simmer gently, covered, over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and continue cooking for 20-25 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are tender and the cooking liquid has thickened slightly. Serve hot or at room temperature.

*To add flavor, broil the peppers in the oven until the skins begin to blacken. Remove from broiler and place in a brown paper bag and set aside until cool. Peel off the skin, then remove the core and seeds and cut into strips. Add to the mixture with the cooked eggplant.


selway2005 said...

In our home, we'd eat it with couscous and merguez...yum!

Rachel said...

I'm so excited to try it! Just watched the movie Ratatouille and it got me curious as to how it tastes.

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