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Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Ratatouille (pronounced rat-tat-too-e) is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. The full name of the dish is ratatouille Niçoise.
The French “touiller” means to toss food. Ratatouille is usually served as a side dish, but also may be served as a meal on its own or accompanied by pasta, rice or bread. Tomatoes are a key ingredient, with garlic, onions, courgettes (zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), poivron (bell peppers), carrot, and bouquet garni or herbs like herbes de Provence. There is much debate on how to make a traditional ratatouille. My method is to simply sauté all of the vegetables together. Some cooks, including Julia Child, insist on a layering approach, where the aubergine and the courgettes are sautéed separately, while the tomatoes, onion, garlic and bell peppers are made into a sauce. The ratatouille is then layered in a casserole – aubergine, courgettes, tomato/pepper mixture – then baked in an oven.
When ratatouille is used as a filling for savory crêpes or to fill an omelette, (last week’s recipe) the pieces are sometimes cut smaller. Also, unnecessary moisture is reduced by straining the liquid with a colander into a bowl, reducing it in a hot pan, then adding one or two tablespoons of reduced liquid back into the vegetables.
- 2 big onions, diced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
– 6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
– Salt and freshly ground pepper
- a bouquet garni or Herbs de Provence
– 1 large eggplant, diced coarsely
- zucchini, diced coarsely
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
- yellow bell peppers, seeded and diced
– 5 or 6 big tomatoes, diced
Heat a heavy assed sauce pan with some olive oil. Brown the onions & garlic, and then add the eggplant and brown. Add the peppers, the zucchinis, and the tomatoes with the bouquet garni let them cook for at least 35 minutes…. Stir often.
You can eat it hot or cold. You are the chef. If you eat it with a roasted leg of lamb, and a Rose wine from Provence, you won’t be far from smelling the fragrances of the old flower market in Nice.
Jean Doherty is the Chef and Owner of Le Patio Restaurant in Wilton Manors (954) 530-4641

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