If you're like me, you probably had not idea what exactly ratatouille was when that cute animated film by the same name came out a couple years back. I saw the movie, actually, I insisted on purchasing the movie, yet I still had no clue what the actual French dish was. I'd heard reference to it being some kind of vegetable casserole, but couldn't have picked it out if someone set a dish right in front of me.
Thankfully, that all changed when Julie and Julia came out this summer, and recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking started popping up all over the place! I found the recipe for Julia Child's Ratatouille in Bon Appetit, and knew I had to try it. Basically, I would describe it as a mix of stewed vegetables, including peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. While the ingredients are mostly summer vegetables, the method of cooking makes it so that you could use sub-par out of season veggies and still pull off a good dish. I think it would be great this time of year, when you still have some veggies around, but also want a warm and satisfying dish. You'll be amazed at the great flavor you get from such simple ingredients!
by Julia Child, reprinted in Bon Appetit
1/2 pound eggplant
1/2 pound zucchini, trimmed
1 tsp salt
7 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 8-oz onion, thinly sliced
2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced into strips
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 pound firm but ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4 inch thick strips
3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
Peel eggplant; cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices, then cut into 3-inch-long, 1-inch-side strips. Cut zucchini into same size strips. Place vegetables in large bowl, sprinkle with 1 tsp salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain; dry with paper towels.
Heat 4 Tbsp oil in large skilled over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add eggplant and zucchini to skillet; saute until light golden, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to plate; reserve. Add 3 Tbsp oil to skillet; heat over medium heat. Add onion and peppers; saute until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
Place tomato strips atop onion-pepper mixture in skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover skillet; cook over low heat until tomatoes begin to juice, about 5 minutes. Uncover; baste vegetables in skillet with juices. Boil until juices are almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfew 1/3 of onion-pepper-tomato mixture to 2 1/2 quart pot; sprinkle with 1 tbsp parsley. Top with half of eggplant and half of zucchini, then remaining onion mixture; sprinkle with 1 Tbsp parsley. Cover; simmer over low heat 10 minutes. Uncover; tilt pot and baste with accumulated juices. Increase heat to medium; simmer uncovered, basting several times with pan juices until only 2 to 3 Tbsp juices remain in pot, watching closely to avoid scorching, 10 to 15 minutes loger. Season with salt and pepper, and serve warm or at room temperature.