Monday, July 16, 2012


In honor of Bastille Day on Saturday, I decided to cook something French for dinner; something fresh and seasonal to honor the summer, of course, but also something quintessentially Gallic.  As much as I love fancy meals, whenever I feel the need to make regional dishes I always find myself wanting "peasant food," and ratatouille fit the bill perfectly.

I'd actually only had ratatouille once before - my friend and former flatmate Christine made it for lunch when we lived together in London in the summer of 2009.  Her version was a silky stew, and I remember that she slaved over it for hours, pretending to slap my hand away every time I snuck a bite from the pot but loving the fact that I simply couldn't stay away from the stove.  I knew I wanted to make a ratatouille like hers but from a recipe that required a lot less effort.

The ratatouille in the Ottolenghi cookbook looked intricate, as did Julia Child's recipe.  (Big shocker there, obviously!)  Mark Bittman asked for his ratatouille to be oven-baked; it was really more of a tian, which I've made several times before and loved but didn't want to repeat.  I wanted a stew.  I wanted a melange of hearty but refreshing flavors with a tender texture.  Essentially, I wanted to braise my favorite summer vegetables.

So I turned to The Kitchn, from where I adapted the below recipe, and two hours after I picked up my knife we were tucking into the most delicious ratatouille.

makes 6 servings

1 large eggplant
1 large yellow onion
4 medium courgettes
2 large tomatoes
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs minced garlic
1 small bay leaf
2 fresh sprigs of thyme
1/4 c fresh basil, sliced into ribbons
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the eggplant into bite-sized pieces.  Place in a colander over a large bowl and toss with a teaspoon of salt.  Let sit while you prepare the rest of the vegetables.

Dice the onions and chop the courgettes and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces; put each in its own bowl.

Warm a teaspoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Transfer the onions back to their bowl.

Add another teaspoon of olive oil to the Dutch oven and sauté the courgettes with a generous pinch of salt for five minutes, stirring frequently.  Transfer the courgettes back to their bowl.

Rinse the eggplant under running water.  Squeeze the cubes to wring out all excess moisture.  Warm two teaspoons of olive oil in the Dutch oven and sauté the eggplant, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.  Transfer the eggplant to a bowl.

Warm another teaspoon of olive oil in the Dutch oven and sauté the garlic for a minute, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.  Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme.  Continue to scrape up the brown glaze on the bottom.

Return the rest of the vegetables back to the pot and mix completely.  Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat down to low.  Cover and simmer for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When you have taken the pot off the heat, remove the bay leaf and the sprigs of thyme and then sprinkle in the basil.

Serve as you like - and enjoy!

We layered couscous under our ratatouille and served chicken kabobs marinated in yogurt alongside.  It is even better the next day, eaten cold; my preference is to pile it on a slice of brown bread smeared with goat cheese, but the possibilities are endless!


  1. I'm so impressed! I think that I've only had ratatouille once and have never even thought about making it. until now.

  2. I've been meaning to make this forever, but have just never gotten around to it - your version looks fantastic, and I love the idea of pairing it up with couscous or with brown bread and goat cheese! Yum!!!


I love reading your thoughts and suggestions! Please do leave a comment so we can get to know each other better.