- Author: Vivian Patterson
A summer garden in the hot Owens Valley can produce oodles of Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peppers, Zucchini, Garlic, and Onions. Ratatouille is a classic French Provençal stew made from these exact fresh vegetables. Over the years I've tried making every recipe of Ratatouille I could find and while some were better than others none was as good as the Ratatouille from Provence where it had its origin. On a trip to Provence last month, I made it my mission to find out how it is made there and why it is so much better than any I've made here.
Several helpful hints I found:
- Use equal quantities (by weight) of Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peppers, and Zucchini
- Cut all the above vegetables in ½” cubes
- Mise en Place: Cut ALL vegetables before you begin to cook. This will keep everything cooking at the correct amount of time without the worry of the phone ringing or other interruptions.
- There is a certain order that the vegetables are added to the pot. Follow this order. After the addition of each vegetable, cook for 15 minutes before adding the next vegetable.
Best of All: Ratatouille can be frozen. You must let it cool all the way before freezing it. It should be thawed in the refrigerator. I tried this and it works!
Ratatouille de Provence
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Chopped Onion –1-2 large
- Minced Garlic – About 1-2 Tbs
- Tomato Paste – ½ Small Can
- Fresh Basil chopped
Use 1½ pounds of each of the following. Cube everything the same size. About 1/2 inch. For smaller or larger batches, select fairly equal quantities (by weight) of the following.
- Sweet Peppers
- Tomato (cored and seeded, but leave skin on)
Cook the following slowly at a Medium Low heat.
- Sauté Onion in extra virgin olive oil until soft. Add Garlic at the end just before Step 2.
- Add Peppers to Onion and cook 15 minutes, stirring as necessary.
- Add Eggplant and cook 15 minutes, stirring as necessary. Add more oil if needed.
- Add Zucchini and cook 15 minutes, stirring as necessary.
- Add Tomato, Tomato Paste, and Basil. Stir to combine. It will seem like there is not enough liquid. There is! Cook slowly to release liquid.
- Continue cooking until done and you have a desirable consistency. Vegetables will still be distinguishable and have some texture.
- Taste for salt and pepper.
Let cool. Serve at lukewarm, room temperature, or cool.
Refrigerate for 3 days or freeze.
Freezing: It is recommended that you freeze in usable quantities. Ratatouille must completely cool before freezing. Pint-size freezer jars are great for this. Leave one-inch head space. Be sure to label with product name and date.
If frozen, let thaw slowly in the refrigerator.