By Steve Black
Everyone wants Ratatouille these days. I have to agree that after viewing the movie twice, it does make one feel better about being a Cook/Chef. I spent 1.5 years working in Strasbourg France and it was there, that I discovered what Ratatouille was, and I came to like it every since.
Ratatouille simply put, is a peasant vegetable dish that originally hails from the South of France. It is a slow simmered mix that can be as varied as one’s personal tastes. Below is a basic recipe for a batch that I made at home and paired with a Grilled Swordfish Steak.
6 ea. Peeled Cipollini Onions
12 ea. Peeled Red Pearl Onions
1 ea. Diced Green Bell Pepper, 1” Squares
1 clove Chopped Garlic
1 ea. Diced Eggplant, 1” Cubes
1 ea. Diced Zucchini 1” Cubes
1 ea. Yellow Squash, 1” Cubes
3 ea. Ripe Tomatoes, Seeded, Peeled and Chopped, 1” Cubes
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 sprig Fresh Rosemary
1 tbsp . Chopped Fresh Thyme
3 leaves Chopped Fresh Basil
1/2 tsp. Sugar
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
In a large pot, over medium heat, Add the Olive Oil, Onions, Garlic and Peppers and cook for 5 minutes until they begin to get translucent. Add the Eggplant, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Tomatoes, Rosemary Sprig, Sugar and Thyme. Check for seasoning and add Salt & Pepper to your taste preference and let this mix cook gently over medium-low heat for 15- 20 minutes to allow the vegetables to gently breakdown and marry their flavors together. It is ok for the Ratatouille to have some excess liquid. You can thicken it up with a little Tomato Paste.
Add the Chopped Basil at the very end so the flavor is more pronounced, place in a bowl and keep in a warm oven.
Grill what ever your fresh catch of the day is and serve with your Ratatouille. Save any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days. It is great to eat cold or to re-heat again. Like braised Cabbage, it gets better during each preparation rotation.
I used Cipolinni and Red Pearl onions, but a basic Chopped Onion is what the recipe calls for. The smaller the Zucchini and Yellow Squash, the smaller the seeds and the better they are for this recipe.
To peel a tomato, remove the core and X the bottom, then bring a small pot of salted water to a simmer. Dip the tomato in the water, making sure it is covered for 10-25 seconds. Remove and cool with cold water. Use a paring knife to remove the skin.