Since my summer abroad when my tight budget meant I lived off of can after can of ratatouille, the Provencal, country dish filled to the bring with summer flavor has been my favorite dish. It’s the one food I never tire of, my favorite meal to share.
When I first returned from France, I invited friends I’d missed over for an evening of ratatouille, a summer stew with herbes de Provence. It’s the vegetarian dish for non-vegetarians. It’s… so good that there weren’t pictures this time.
This round of ratatouille–made from our CSA, our garden & our mix of herbes de Provence–was the best ever. I don’t know if it was the two couples we shared it with or the freshness of the produce or knowing that our full heart went into growing the herbs & eggplants. Here it is–my favorite French recipe, in a loosely constructed form. I go by what looks right, so go by what feels right for your palate.
Take 3 pound of tomatoes. Bring a pot of water to boil. Drop in the tomatoes; boil them for three minutes. While they boil, fill a bowl with water & ice. Drop the tomatoes into it so they cool, then peel them. Chop the peeled tomatoes & get scoop out the seeds. Set the tomatoes aside.
Get this ready: 2 cups diced onion, 1 bulb diced garlic, 2 cups diced sweet pepper (in any blend you like), 3 cups chopped eggplant, 1 cups chopped zucchini.
Now, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a sauce pan that heats evenly. Add the onion & garlic; sauté until soft. Add the eggplant & 2 teaspoons of herbes de Provence. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add olive oil if things seem to be sticking.
Add the zucchini. Cook five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add 1/2 cup white wine, the tomatoes & 2 tablespoons fresh basil (chopped). Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
I usually make mine earlier in the day, simmer it for a while, turn it off & reheat it about 20 minutes before I want to eat.
My favorite way to enjoy ratatouille is with a (large) chunk of baguette, alternating between sopping the sauciness up & adding a bit of soft goat cheese onto baguette–cramming everything into my mouth at the same time. You know, savory the flavors in a really classy way. Enjoy it with the rest of your white wine, en plein air if you can.
I’ve had French friends make this dish for me–calling it “skillet style” or “Italian style” or serving it with rice, pasta or on top of bread (all “Manhattan-style”).
It just gets better each time it’s reheated–so, sure. It makes a lot of food. (Six large portions.) Put some in the freezer; put some in the fridge; enjoy it for days. Try a new way each day. Fall in love.