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Ratatouille (French Provençal Stewed Vegetables)

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Today’s generation knows ratatouille Pixar-style—a dish of sliced vegetables arranged alternately in a concentric circle to make the colors of the vegetables pop. Pixar got it wrong and Remy’s masterpiece is not ratatouille at all. The beautifully arranged vegetable dish is the Provençal tian which is also the name of the earthenware in which it is traditionally cooked.

Ratatouille (French Provençal Stewed Vegetables)

This is ratatouille (from the Occitan ratatolha) —diced vegetables stewed in chopped tomatoes—although I wish that all the vegetables were more Provençal. It’s the same recipe originally published in March 3, 2017; I am republishing it with the additional info about tian and a video in the recipe box below.

Classic ratatouille is a peasant dish that uses seasonal vegetables. The most common combination has eggplants, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers and summer squash. The summer squash varieties that grow in Provence, sometimes available here in tropical Asia as a pricey imported vegetable, is nowhere to be found in the suburb where we live. I used local squash instead.

Ratatouille is a vegan dish; for us omnivores, we needed some meat to go with our veggies.

Ratatouille (French Provençal Stewed Vegetable)

I took a small slab of pork belly, salted the meat, cut it into cubes which went into the frying pan until browned and lightly crisp. It was a lovely partner for ratatouille.

Ratatouille (French Provençal Stewed Vegetable)

Ratatouille

The eggplants that grow in the Mediterranean, shorter but wider than their Asian siblings, have the best texture for vegetable stews because they retain their shape despite the long cooking time. The downside is that they are somewhat bitter whereas Asian eggplants are sweet. It is up to you which variety to use. If using Asian eggplants, add them during the last ten minutes of cooking to prevent them from getting too soggy.
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Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: French
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: CASA Veneracion

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggplants cubed
  • 1 zucchini halved then cut into half-inch sliced
  • 2 bell peppers deseeded and diced
  • 1 wedge squash cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion roughly chopped
  • 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or 3 sprigs fresh oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • basil chiffonade to garnish
  • chopped parsley to garnish

Video

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Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a wide shallow pan.
  • Saute the garlic and onion until softened and aromatic.
  • Add the eggplants, zucchini, bell peppers and squash. Fry lightly for a minute or so.
  • Pour in the chopped tomatoes.
  • Add the thyme and oregano.
  • Sprinkle in some salt and pepper.
  • Stir the vegetables. Bring to a boil then immediately lower the heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until tender. The juice from the tomatoes should be just enough to allow the vegetables to cook. For best results, taste the ratatouille midway through the cooking and add more salt and pepper, as needed.
  • Off the heat, taste the ratatouille one last time and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
  • Sprinkle the basil chiffonade and chopped parsley over the ratatouille. Serve warm or at room temperature with rice, bread or noodles.
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Ratatouille (French Provençal Stewed Vegetable)