Dad’s Ratatouille

My father originally found this recipe from Dean & DeLuca, and over time it has become a family classic. Only he has the patience to make it.

The recipe is little involved, but the results are fantastic! Luxuriously rich, smooth, and flavorful, this ratatouille is a dream to eat.

The trick is to cook all of the vegetables separately, then combine them at the end. That way every vegetable gets exactly the amount of cooking it needs.

Preparation time: 1 hour and a half, minimum.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 lb zucchini, chopped
  • 1 lb yellow squash, chopped
  • Bell peppers, seeds removed, chopped into 1/2 inch square pieces:
  • --1 lb green bell peppers
  • --1/2 lb red bell peppers
  • --1/2 lb yellow bell peppers
  • 1 lb eggplant, 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 lb fresh ripe tomatoes (or equal amount of high quality canned tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-inch sprig rosemary
  • 3/4 cup vegetable stock (or thin tomato juice)
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Method

1 Preheat oven to 400° F.

2 Sauté onions and garlic: Using a large oven-proof pan over medium high heat, sauté onions in olive oil until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and reduce heat to low.

3 Sauté zucchini: While the onions and garlic are cooking over low heat, put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a another frying pan over high heat. As soon as oil starts to smoke, quickly add enough zucchini cubes all at once to cover the bottom of the pan.

Keep on cooking over high heat, stirring, until zucchini is lightly browned on all sides. Remove zucchini cubes, and add them to pan with the onions.

Working in batches, repeat this process until all of the zucchini cubes have been cooked.

4 Sauté squash, bell peppers, eggplant: Cook the yellow squash in the same manner as the zucchini. Make sure to add a little olive oil between each new batch. Continue with the bell peppers, then the eggplant cubes, adding the browned vegetables to the onion pan as soon as they are cooked.

5 Add salt, thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, and vegetable stock: When all the vegetables (except the tomatoes) are browned and in the pan with the onions, increase the heat to high and stir, making sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add salt to taste, thyme, bay leaf, and rosemary, the vegetable stock, and stir well.

6 Place in 400°F oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Alternatively you can cook them on the stovetop on low heat for 30 minutes.

7 Blanch fresh tomatoes, remove skin, chop tomatoes: If using fresh tomatoes, boil water in a saucepan on stove. Remove stems from tomatoes, and crisscross the bottoms with a knife. Plunge into boiling water for a minute or two, until skin starts to fall away. Rinse in cold water and remove skin.

Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise, remove seeds, chop coarsely, set aside.

8 Drain vegetables, reduce juices to make a glaze: After the vegetables have been in the oven for a half hour, remove from oven, drain vegetables in a colander set over a bowl to catch the juices. Clean browned bits (if any) off bottom of pan with a paper towel.

Return any liquid to the pan and reduce to a thick glaze over medium high heat. Keep on adding juices to the pan as they run out of the vegetables into the bowl.

9 Combine cooked vegetables with chopped tomatoes: When all the juices have been reduced, return vegetables to the heavy pan. At this point the ratatouille should be moist and shiny, with very little liquid. Turn heat off. Add the chopped tomatoes and cover. If serving as a warm side dish, let the ratatouille stand for 10 minutes, just enough to "cook" the tomatoes. The ratatouille can be served at room temperature or refrigerated and reheated the next day.

10 When ready to serve, remove the bay leaf, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe adapted from Dean & Deluca.

Links:
Recipe of the ratatouille served in the movie - Called "confit byaldi", this recipe from Thomas Keller was the basis of the recipe of the ratatouille that was served in the Pixar film.
Ratatouille as a soup from Nicky of Delicious Days
Ratatouille wanna-be from Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen
Nicoise ratatouille by Béa of La Tartine Gourmande
Maki's ratatouille from Just Hungry
Socca crepes filled with ratatouille from chef Brett of In Praise of Sardines
Ratatouille tart with goat chees from Meeta of What's for Lunch, Honey?
Ratatouille, Iman Bayildi - classic Turkish recipe from Food Vagabond

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