Ratatoille. I am not a vegetarian but I sure don’t miss meat when I have in front of me a delicious bowl of this quintessential vegetable mix. To be honest, I wasn’t too crazy about this dish because I had a first bad experience and I said “Oh, Is this it? a bland mix of veggies?” It wasn’t until last year when I decided to give Ratatoille a second chance and boy was I glad. I would be lying if I told you that I spent hours trying to figure out a “good recipe”. I was lucky enough to get help from the mother of a good friend of mine, Madame Nicole. They are from Normandy, north-west of France. She is known for making a good Ratatoille. Lucky for me, my search was over.
A good Ratatouille is not a quick dish to make because each vegetable is cooked separately and then put in one pot and cooked a bit more to let the flavors fuse together. Believe me, it’s so worth the effort.
1 Large yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic clove, chopped
1 large eggplant, diced
2 zucchini, diced
2 Red bell peppers, seeded and diced
5 plum tomatoes
2 potatoes, cut into 1 inch cube
1 cup Olive oil, reserve 1/4 cup
Salt and ground pepper
Preheat the oven 325 F.
Score a cross in the top of each tomato, plunge into boiling water for about 20 seconds and then peel the skin away, it should come out easy. Cut into 1 inch cube. Place the tomatoes and garlic in a dutch oven and drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with some thyme.
Repeat this with the remaining vegetables using individual containers for each. Bake the onions, red bell peppers, potatoes and zucchini for about 1 hour, the eggplant for 1 1/2 hour, and the tomatoes for 15 minutes. Once the vegetables are completely tender, transfer them into the dutch oven with the tomatoes, add remaining 1/4 of olive oil and bake them together for 20 more minutes. Serve warm with bread.