Monday 22 June 2009

Ratatouille is one of those dishes that I am sure the French invented to get rid of the bits and bobs of vegetables that were hanging around at the end of the week. It's a kitchen sink kind of a dish, with all sort of delicious vegetables tossed in and cooked into a wonderfully tasty and rich melange.

I like the vegetables in mine to remain rather distinct and so I like to keep them into medium/large chunks. I also like to use Molly Wizenberg's technique of roasting the aubergine first. I'm not sure why it should make a difference, but it does . . .

Crusty bread is a must to help sop up all those deliciously rich juices. This is peasant food, comfortingly simple, with rich and complex flavours . . .

Serves 4 to 6
Printable Recipe

This is one of those dishes that is quite tasty as well as comforting. It's also one of those dishes that tastes better the longer you let it stand . . . rich and flavourful, and just right served with fresh crusty bread to sop up all the delicious juices.

1 kg aubergines, cut into pieces (eggplants to you North Americans)
extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 red peppers, halved, deseeded and cut into pieces
2 yellow peppers, halved, deseeded and cut into pieces
6 smallish courgettes, trimmed, halved lengthwise and cut into pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
6 medium tomatoes, halved and chopped
a small bunch of basil, coarsely chopped
a sprig of Thyme
a bay leaf
coarse sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Slice your aubergines and brush them on one side with some olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast in a hot oven (200*C/400*F) for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip over and brush the other sides with some olive oil and return them to the heated oven to roast for another 15 minutes. They should be lightly browned when done. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Heat 3 TBS of olive oil in a large casserole with a lid. Add the onions and cook until soft, some 3 to 5 minutes. Salt lightly. Add all of the peppers and cook for 5 to 8 minutes longer, stirring often. Turn up the heat to keep the sizzling sound going, but don't let it burn. Season lightly again. Add one more tablespoon of the oil and the courgettes. Mix well and cook for about 5 minutes longer. Add the roasted aubergine, cut into chunks along with the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the tomatoes, basil, thyme and the bay leaf. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, then lower the heat and cover. Simmer gently for for 30 minutes, checking occasionally and giving it a good stir. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaf. This tastes best when served at room temperature. Garnish with a few sliced basil leaves and a good grinding of black pepper.


  1. I've never heard of doing the eggplant first..I have her pretty new book,,maybe it's in there:)

    I love ratatouille..particularly on pasta!
    It's actually one of my favorite dishes!

  2. A summer favorite...we love ratatouille over pasta or couscous! Great recipe... Happy Day, dear Marie :o) LOVE YA ((BIG HUGS))

  3. I made ratatoulle, Friday and made lots so we would have it to nosh on, when hungry. It is truly a comfort food.

    I used canned diced tomatoes and I see you used the real "thing", tomatoes. I have to use them, next time I make it.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. I roast the aubergines first as well. It dries them out a bit. I've never used 'real' tomatoes in it as I never seem to have a glut of them (might do if we grew more of them!). Canned (without the juice) has to do......but I LOVE Ratatouille.

    love, Angie, xx

  5. I've been preparing a version of Ratatatouille for about a decade now, one I adapted from a version for Catelli pasta. It called for sautéing the cubed eggplant/aubergine and zucchini/courgettes beforehand, but I must say they soak up too much oil that way, and soften. Add drained canned tomatoes (I save fresh tomatoes for dishes where they figure more prominently, unless there is a seasonal surplus of them). I add some sprigs of fresh rosemary & thyme (the original recipe only called for parsley, but I skip it - and sage - and go for the fairer herbs). Stir in some pre-cooked, pre-crumbled Italian sausage (from our supermarket, rich in its own flavourings). I tend to make large batches, as that's what Anthony & I have typically done as lazy cooks. However, these days he can't partake because of the skins and seeds, and our lil' guy has only deemed it worthy of eating once, so I've had to freeze half the pot. And it doesn't thaw well, sad to say. I prefer to serve it over rice - or better yet couscous - than pasta, because I find they do a tastier job soaking up the extra juices.
    I think I'll try roasting the eggplant first next time. Would it work with the zucchini, or are they too watery?
    Alas, I know crave this hearty, deliciously warming harvest treat, but eating it alone is not nearly as much fun...

  6. I do like your blog, and I never post a comment but as a french, living in the south of France,I have to say that ratatouille is a Mediterranean dish which entered the culinary jargon from the middle of the XVIIIth century, ratatouille means vegetables stew, boorishly cuts, and simmered for a long time with spices. Those vegetables grow easily in the south,and our french ratatouille does look as good as yours.


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