Mmmm. Look familiar? This is a real-life recreation of the mouthwatering dish Chef Rémy prepares in the Disney Pixar film, Ratatouille. A delicious mélange of summer vegetables in an herb-seasoned tomato sauce, Ratatouille is a hearty provincial dish that comes from the region surrounding the city of Nice, on the French Riviera. I just spent a beautiful, sun-drenched week there, and I have to say that the cuisine niçoise – a blend of French, Mediterranean, and Italian traditions, using lots of olive oil, tomatoes, basil, oregano, capers, and roasted vegetables – is truly incredible. I loved everything I ate, and was inspired to try to recreate some of that savory deliciousness in my own kitchen.
12 oz. eggplant
12 oz. zucchini
12 oz. peppers, red and green
12 oz. onion
18 oz. ripe tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
6 tablespoons of olive oil
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1.) Peel the tomatoes by cutting small, shallow Xs on the bottom of each fruit and dropping them into boiling water. After 30 seconds, or when skin begins to peel off, remove from boiling water and plunge in a bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, peel the rest of the skin off. It should come quite easily.
2.) Cut the peeled tomatoes in quarters. Core peppers and remove seeds, then slice. Slice onions. Mince garlic.
3.) Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan or cast-iron skillet. Sautée onions and peppers until they begin to soften, then add the tomatoes, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf.
4.) Salt and pepper to taste, then let simmer over a very low flame for about 45 minutes.
5.) While this cooks, prepare the eggplant and zucchini. Cut them into nice, round width-wise slices between 1/4 and 1/2 in. thick. In a separate pan, cook them for about 15 minutes each in olive oil, turning them halfway through cooking.
6.) Add cooked eggplant and zucchini slices to the main pan and cook another 10 minutes. It's normal for the vegetables to fall apart a little. If you wish to avoid this, cook a little less time. Salt and pepper again if need be.
7.) Voilà! Garnish with some fresh herbs and serve :)
Thanks for reading, and bon appétit, Vinglers! If you give this delectable ratatouille a try, let me know what you think! :)