The contents of my CSA share a few weeks ago were screaming to make Ratatouille, a dish that highlights the taste of fresh summer vegetables. I adapted Ginette Mathiot’s Ratatouille recipe from I Know How to Cook. It was supposed to be slowly simmered for 2 hours, but I was starving so I cooked it at a high simmer for about an hour. Then I scooped out the cooked vegetable rounds and cooked the remaining liquid on high until it reduced into a dense oily glaze to pour on top of the vegetables. Since that endeavor I made a baked ratatouille and I prefer the taste of this version. I was hesitant to post as I still wonder how the taste would be different if I had more dutifully followed Mathiot’s directions to simmer for two hours, but my results were also worth replicating.
The specific quantities needed depend upon the size of your pan and what you have on hand. This is what I used to fill a 5qt pot to the brim.
- 1 1/2 bell peppers
- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 zucchini
- 1 1/2 onions
- 1 1/2 large tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- salt, pepper, basil
- Slice all the vegetables into 1/4″-1/2″ rounds.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil to a low simmer in a large pot. Add the crushed garlic cloves and cook a minute or two until fragrant.
- Begin adding the vegetable rounds in alternating layers. I first added all of the cut pepper, then a layer of eggplant rounds, followed by onion, zucchini, and tomatoes. Repeat layers if you have additional vegetables. My ingredients and my pan size made one solid layer of each type of vegetable.
- Sprinkle the top with salt, pepper, and basil. Drizzle the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil on top of the vegetables and add 3/4 cup of water to the pot.
- Mathiot says to cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours. ***the additional steps detail my variation on her method***
- I have an electric turn dial stove, numbered Min-Max with 1-8 listed as the numbers between these two settings. I began with the burner on “2”, a medium-low simmer. After 40 minutes of cooking the vegetables covered, I peeked and it looked like there was still a lot of water in there. I notched the burner to “3”, a medium-high simmer.
- At 1 hour and 10 minutes, everything was a nice mushy soft edible texture, but there was still lots of water. I used a spatula to scoop out the cooked vegetables and place them in a bowl.
- I turned the burner to high heat, and boiled the remaining liquid to reduce it. Twice I tilted the bowl of scooped out vegetables to drain their water back into the pot of liquid I was reducing. Once the liquid had reduced to a oily glaze, I poured it on top of the cooked vegetables.
Whether a low simmer for 2 hours, or a rushed simmer, the moral of the story is that this recipe is the quintessential simple summer dish that is hard to mess up so long as you begin with nice in season flavorful vegetables: cut, assemble, and leave it to do its thing for an hour or two while you do your thing (read a book, watch tv, clean your house, solve world peace).
The taste of the vegetables is heavenly. It can hold its own as the main fare if accompanied by pasta, rice or bread and serves as an excellent second fiddle to a meat entree.