A classic recipe for ratatouille, made with eggplant, peppers, tomato, olives, mushrooms, peppers. One of my very favorite late-summer dishes and yes, this is the dish that made the 2007 movie Ratatouille such a hit!
Now that the nights are cool again at last, there are other sure signs of autumn’s onset. Goldenrod swaying in the sun. A hint of russet peaking through green hillsides with southern exposures. The familiar V of waterfowl migrating south. Another is the abundance at the farmers’ market – and the grocery store – now overflowing with the last of late-summer fruits and vegetables and the first of fall’s fresh, pungent apples and firm, earthy squashes. Truly, we are blessed by bounty.
Pair plump eggplant with vine-ripened tomatoes for this week’s seasonal dish, ratatouille. Pronounced ra-tuh-TOO-ee, it’s a side dish that originated in the Provence region of southern France but is prepared with ease in our own kitchens. With no added fat, this version of ratatouille is especially healthful yet still rich with flavor, thanks to the balsamic vinegar.
Serve as a side dish with grilled or baked pork, a green salad and a crusty loaf and you’ll sit down to a fast, satisfying meal.
It’s also delicious spread on fresh bread smeared with a thin layer of cream cheese.
Ratatouille reheats well in the oven or microwave and can also be served cold, for example, as a side on a main dish salad.
If you don’t happen to have fresh tomatoes on hand, canned diced tomatoes are as good as the fresh – and maybe better. If you like, add fresh mushrooms, peppers and olives when sautéing the vegetables and top with a shaving of Parmesan.
How do you pronounce the word ratatouille? It's easy! Just say [ra-tuh-TOO-ee]. Three times now, you've got it!
Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Total preparation time: 50 minutes
- 1 medium eggplant, skin on, cut in 1” cubes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 large tomato, cut in 1/2-inch pieces (or 14 oz canned diced tomatoes)
- 1 small zucchini, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
OPTIONAL but RECOMMENDED
- 1/2 cup black olives (Kalamata if available), pits removed and halved
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered
- 1/2 red or green pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (don't skip!)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400F.
Place 1 tablespoon water in a large skillet and bring to boil over medium heat. Add the eggplant and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes or until beginning to soften. Meanwhile, clean and cut the remaining (including optional if using) vegetables. Add as ready, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add balsamic vinegar, stirring to distribute. Transfer to a baking dish lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 25 minutes. If desired, after baking 20 minutes, remove dish from oven and top with Parmesan. Return to oven for final 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
(With optional ingredients) Per Serving: 58 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 10g Carb; 3g Fiber; 148mg Sodium; 1mg Cholesterol; 3g Protein; Weight Watchers Old Points 1, PointsPlus 2
Thanks to the necessary balsamic vinegar, Ratatouille can turn out 'looking' like a kind of brown-ish mess, despite the gorgeous colors of the fresh vegetables used to make it. To make the final dish more attractive, I've learned to use red pepper (cut in fairly large pieces so to be obvious) and to top the dish with slices of Roma tomatoes (which are sturdy enough to hold up to the oven's heat).
For an especially good Ratatouille, make and bake a day before serving, then gently rewarm just before serving. It also rewarms beautifully in a pot on the stove.
Originally published in print 10/11/02 (Kitchen Parade's second column!), published online for the first time in 2008, republished online in 2010.
If there's more than one way to skin a cat, there's at least one more way to make ratatouille. In 2009, the hit recipe of the summer was Stacked Ratatouille, here shown in a version that feeds a crowd, but there's also a version for one or two. It's virtually the same ingredients as the Kitchen Parade recipe for Ratatouille (above) but turns out entirely different. BOTH are winners.
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