Ratatouille (Rah-tah-TOO-ee) was born in the Provence region of France. Juicy, flavorful and rich, ratatouille is particularly good when served over polenta or whole-grain pasta with freshly grated Parmesan.
(Serves 6 - 8)
2 small eggplants, about 1½ pounds total
3 red, orange or yellow sweet bell peppers
⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1½ teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
2 medium-large onions, preferably sweet
¼ cup finely chopped fresh garlic
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
¼ cup fresh chopped basil OR 1 teaspoon dried basil
Optional: 2 - 3 slim zucchini
Heat oven to 450 degrees with rack in the top third of the oven.
- Line a large, shallow roasting pan, about 11 x 16 inches or the largest that will fit into your oven, with heavy-duty foil coated with non-stick spray. Trim the eggplant and cut into 1 x ½-inch chunks. Core and seed the peppers; chop them into 1-inch chunks. Toss eggplant and peppers together in a large bowl with 1/3 cup olive oil. Spread them in the pan, sprinkle with about half the salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes (until the vegetables are just barely tender).
- Peel the onions and chop into 1 x ½-inch chunks. Heat 1/3 cup of oil in a sturdy pot (5-quart or larger so the onions can spread out and steam less). Sauté the onions briskly for about 12 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté another 2 minutes. (You can alternatively roast the onions like the eggplant, if you prefer.)
- Pour diced, canned tomatoes into a strainer to drain.
- Add eggplant and pepper mixture, drained tomatoes, basil and the remaining salt and pepper to the sautéed onions in the pot. Mix gently in a folding motion to avoid mushing the soft vegetables.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake ratatouille, uncovered, for about 30 minutes to meld the flavors. (If you have roasted or sautéed more vigorously, the ratatouille doesn’t need to cook, but time is needed for the tomatoes to meld with the other flavors.)
- Serve at any temperature. Liquid will collect, so serve with a good dipping bread. Ratatouille will keep for several days in the refrigerator, but make sure it has cooled thoroughly before covering and chilling.
From Good Food, Great Medicine: A Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle Guide. Third edition, 2014, by Miles Hassell, MD, and Mea Hassell
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