Life, Left Over

Food Friday – Ratatouille

Posted on: October 7, 2011

I always expected Ratatouille to be a difficult dish. I was surprised to find that it was not only easy, it was relatively fast! I made it on Wednesday night, loosely following this recipe from The Kitchn. I’d estimate it took about an hour from start to finish, mostly hands-off. It seems obvious now, but once I realized this is the ancestor to jambalaya, it became much easier to understand. This is very much a “throw what you have in the pot” kind of meal, so you can substitute and estimate on your whim. This is a great way to use up odds and ends, or the green tomatoes you had to bring in before the freeze. Overall, I’d give this recipe about a B+. It was good, but slightly bland. I have some ideas to improve it for next time. Read on!

Ingredients for Ratatouille
Bananas are irrelevant.

Ingredients:
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into cubes
1 or 2 zucchini, coined
1 or 2 bell peppers, roughly chopped (just estimate the amount)
3 cloves garlic, whole
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 yellow onion
1 bay leaf
3-4 sprigs thyme (I used Herbes de Provence)
2 or 3 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks (again, just estimate)
1 can of tomato sauce (especially if you use green tomatoes like I did)
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

Equipment:
large saucepan
sauté pan
paring knife or peeler
chef’s knife
stirring utensil

I approximately halved the recipe, and made use of some of the remnants from my garden. The peppers were small and the tomatoes (except for one) were still green. I really liked the green tomatoes in the finished product. If you don’t have any fresh tomatoes, try using one undrained can of whole tomatoes (that’s what the recipe suggested) – diced tomatoes would probably also work.
The amount of zucchini in the picture is much more than I ended up using. I couldn’t fit them all in my sauté pan.
This served two people, with plenty left over.

The Process
First, you’ll want to gather all your ingredients and do all the chopping and slicing. This can be done in advance if you prefer.

Warm some oil in the bottom of your saucepan and toss in the onions. Let them cook, stirring occasionally, until they are beginning to brown. Add the minced garlic and the chopped peppers. Cook and stir again until the peppers are soft.

Peppers and Onions

At this point, add your tomato products, spices, and the garlic cloves. Stir to combine and turn down to a simmer.

Rat Tat Tomatoes

Now, turn your attention to the eggplant and zucchini. Warm some oil in the sauté pan and toss in the vegetation.

Eggplant and Zucchini

Let them get soft and brown and toss them into the pot with everything else, along with salt and pepper, if you so desire. (If you don’t want to dirty another pan, you can just throw these in along with everything else, but the original recipe advised against this, and I think they benefited from the process.)

Almost done!

Now is when you’ll want to start whatever you’re serving the ratatouille with. We went with brown rice. Just leave the stew pot simmering, giving it a stir every now and then. When the rice is done (about 20 minutes), the stew will be ready to serve.

Finished Ratatouille
It looks kindof mushy. But it’s actually pretty chunky, especially with the green tomatoes.

Fish out the whole garlic cloves and the bay leaf. Heap the rice into bowls and cover with the stew, and devour! It’s even better if you slice up a baguette to go with it.

Ratatouille and Rice
Sorry, this picture is a bit blurry.

Our Thoughts
Let it first be said that my husband doesn’t like either zucchini or eggplant. With that knowledge, I’ll tell you that we both agreed that it was tasty. He’s very picky about texture, and this has a pleasant one. It’s very much like a chunky vegetarian spaghetti sauce. Our complaint was that it seemed rather bland. Perhaps I didn’t put enough spices.
We eventually decided that what it really needs is a savory kick. Next time we make it, we’ll commit sacrilege on this ancient vegetarian recipe and include some kind of meat. I feel like lamb would probably be most authentic, but more than likely it’ll be chunks of beef.
I can definitely see this being a great slow cooker meal for a crowd, and there are also recipes out there that use the oven (mmm, roasted vegetables). I had the leftovers for lunch on Thursday, and I daresay it was better than before.

Am I the only one who thought Ratatouille would be hard? And the only one who didn’t know it was just like jambalaya? Who else loved the Pixar movie? Do you have a suggestion for improving this recipe? Share your thoughts about this recipe in the comments! (And I’m always open to suggestions for my next Food Friday!)

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3 Responses to "Food Friday – Ratatouille"

Jamie, AWESOME! Looks VERY yummy! I would probably add some fresh basil (as I love it in dishes like this) and chili or hot sauce to give it a bit of a “kick”. Great job!!

As far as food suggestions, we always make homemade pizza’s on Friday (I have a yummy homemade pizza crust recipe if you want it.) The possibilities are endless as to what you can top them with, and it’s a great way for us to use up the remainder of the fresh vegetables in the crisper that would otherwise go bad and be thrown out.

I totally agree with you about the basil. We love it too! This recipe definitely needs a “kick” but that’s just a minor problem. 🙂

I am definitely planning to do pizza dough! I love working with yeast. And homemade pizza IS a delicious way to use up leftovers and such. 🙂

Thanks SO much for your encouragement!

[…] market or your garden. I based these on this recipe at Eclectic Recipes, and made it the day after the Ratatouille (since I had extra zucchinis, and this recipe came to my attention that day). This is a good […]

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