Susan Hermann Loomis, in her book, French Farmhouse Cookbook, says that "perhaps no dish is so classically Provencal as ratatouille." I absolutely love it and try to eat it as often as possible while in France. We have made "medleys" of these same vegetables at our house before, but never before cooked each vegetable individually before melding them all together in the end. Until today....
In Loomis' cookbook, she has a recipe that she got from Monique Tourette, therefore it bears her name. Yes, it does take some cleaning up, and the chopping can be time consuming, but the recipe makes a fair amount and much can be done with it.
It can be a main course along with bread and a salad. How about a sandwich filling, by itself or with cheese or ham? You can even spread it on fresh bread dough and bake it as a pizza. It also gets better with age and supposedly reaches peak flavor on the third day. I doubt it will last that long around here.
I know most of you have gardens that have come to an end, but I would really suggest you try this, and enjoy!!
La Ratatouille de Monique
from Susan Hermann Loomis and French Farmhouse Cookbook
1 large eggplant, cut into medium cubes
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, peeled and cut into small cubes
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large green bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into small dice
1 large zucchini, cut into small cubes
1 pound plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1. Place the eggplant in a colander, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt, toss and let sit for 1 hour. After 1 hour, rinse the eggplant quickly and pat dry. Place in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of oil. Toss so the eggplant is coated with the oil and then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven, 425 degrees, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is soft and golden, about 40 minutes.
2. During the time the eggplant is salted or baking, prepare the rest of the dish. In a large, heavy skillet, combine 1 tablespoon of the oil with the onions. Stir, cover and cook over medium heat until the onions begin to turn golden and are very soft...20 minutes. When done, season with salt and pepper. Transfer onions to a bowl and set them aside.
3. In the same skillet, combine 1 tablespoon oil and the green peppers. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are olive green and tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the peppers to the bowl with the onions.
4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the zucchini, toss to coat in oil, cover and cook until tender throughout, about 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes which have been peeled and cubed, garlic, bay leaf and thyme in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook until the tomatoes have softened and are tender but still have some shape, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
6. To finish the ratatouille, combine the eggplant and all the other ingredients in the skillet with the zucchini.
Stir to combine and season to taste. Let cook just long enough so that the ingredients are hot through, about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning.
Minced parsley leaves can be used to garnish along with lemon wedges. Vinegar is also comely used as a garnish for ratatouille.