The word ratatouille comes from Occitan ratatolha. The dish is a traditional vegetable stew that was once known as a poor man's meal but is now one of the most known and loved around the world.
The key to keeping this dish authentic is to stick to its roots - the south of France, where peppers, tomatoes, garlic, eggplant and corgettes all grow in abundance. It is also important to use high quality olive oil as this contributes to the overall flavour of the dish. This is an effortless recipe that makes a lovely classic dinner.
Serves up to 12.
1 1 lb. eggplants, cut into cubes
1 ¾ teaspoons plus ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
2 ½ lbs. peeled tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup loosely packed, chopped fresh basil
¾ cup loosely packed, chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 ½ lbs. white onions, thinly sliced
3 red or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 lbs. zucchini, cut lengthwise and then into ½-inch slices
2 lbs. yellow squash, cut lengthwise and then into ½-inch slices
1/3 cup dry white wine
High quality extra virgin olive oil
1) Place a single layer of paper towels on 2 large plates. Place the cubed eggplant onto the plates and sprinkle with 1 ¾ teaspoon salt. Allow the eggplant to sit for 20 minutes (This is known as degorgement, which means the salt disgorges any liquid in the eggplant which is absorbed by the paper and makes the dish less soggy)
2) In a large saucepan, gently cook the tomatoes, garlic, black pepper, basil, and parsley, uncovered, over medium heat. Do not boil the vegetables as this will turn them into a soggy mess, the vegetables cooked slowly will keep each of them distinct,
3) In a large skillet, sauté the onions and bell peppers in a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the browned vegetables to the tomato mixture.
4) Pat the eggplant dry with a fresh paper towel and add it, along with the zucchini to the tomato mixture.
5)Cover the pot and cook the stew over low-medium heat for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the white wine and ¾ teaspoon salt and cook for an additional 5 minutes.