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Ratatouille- Eggplant Casserole, with tomatoes, onions, peppers and zucchini

I absolutely love the aromas arising from the herbes de Provence sauted in olive oil, whenever I cook this French vegetarian recipe. I had  Ratatouille when I first travelled to France, and since then I tried several recipes to get the dish perfect. It was only last week when I got my hands on this book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child, it revealed the secret to cooking the perfect ratataouille, just the one I had. This recipe indeed explains how to create an authentic Ratatatouille.

1 lb eggplant,
1 lb zuccini,
A 3-quart, porcelean or stainless steel bowl,
1 tsp salt,
A 10-12 inch enameled skilet,
4 TB olive oil, more if needed,
1 tbsp herbes de Provence
1/2 lb thinly sliced yellow onions,
2 sliced green bell peppers,
2 to 3 TB olive oil if necessary,
2 cloves mashed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb, firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and jucied,
salt and pepper,
A 2 1/2 quart fireproof casserole about 2 1/2 inches deep,
3 TB minced parsley

Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8 inch, about 3 inches long, and 1 inch wide. Scrub the zuccini, slice off the two ends, and cut the zuccini into slices about the same as the size of the eggplant slices. Place the vegetables in bowl and toss with the salt. Let it stand for 30 minutes. Drain, dry each slice in a towel.

One layer at a time, saute the eggplant, then the zucchini in hot olive oil for about a minute, on each side to brown very lightly, remove to a side dish.

In the same skillet, cook the  onions and peppers, in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or tender but not browned. Stir in the  herbes de Provence and garlic.

Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8 inch strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skiller and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun render their juice. Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise the heat and boil for several minutes, until juice had almost entirely evaporated.

Place a third of a tomato mixture, in the bottom of the casserole and sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of parsley. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half of the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini, and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.

Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip casserole, and baste with the rendered juices. Correct seasoning, if necessary. Raise heat slighly and uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavoured olive oil. Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.

Notes from me: Ratatatouille can be created a day well in advance, as the flavours of the herbs and the tomato mature overnight.

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1 Expresso yourself!:

Nandita said...

Delicious!...Awesome...combination...not just in the taste..but an exotic dish....well done...!

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