Don't Call It a Peasant Dish
Made famous by a Pixar film about rodents, ratatouille is a sumptuous, savory autumnal stew overflowing with color and lively flavor combinations.
Before we’re forced by the weather to focus our cooking on potatoes, winter squash, and hardy root vegetables, let’s take a moment to appreciate the earth’s final above-ground veggie hurrah before winter begins. Ratatouille, the traditional French Provençal stewed-vegetable dish from Nice, is perhaps the easiest and most comforting way to take advantage of fall produce. Tomatoes form the base with garlic, onions, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, and herbs (basil, bay leaf, thyme, herbes de Provence, and basil if you’re lucky enough to still have any) helping to create a complex, rich, and deeply flavorful dish.
Just how to make the perfect ratatouille is up for debate. Sauté all the vegetables together? Sauté vegetables separately and combine them at the end? Roast them? Or use the Julia Child approach and sauté the vegetables before intricately layering them to create a tiered casserole? There may be no single way to make this traditional peasant dish, but however you prepare your ratatouille, it will be delicious, warm, comforting, and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
Ratatouille by Beth Hensperger This stew tastes even better the day after it's made, so you might want to plan ahead. You can serve it hot sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese, at room temperature with lemon wedges and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or cold drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
Oven Ratatouille by Mollie Katzen In this no-hassle recipe, everything gets roasted in the oven at a high temperature and then combined in the end so that the flavors become very deep.
Moroccan Ratatouille by Claudia Roden Also called kamfounata, this variation on ratatouille is cooked by Sephardic communities around the Mediterranean. In this version from Morocco, the vegetables are fried separately and then put together in a fresh tomato sauce.
Tomato Crêpes with Ratatouille by Lou Siebert Pappas This recipe comes from the Grand Roche Hotel in Paarl, South Africa, where they serve these crepes (flavored with sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, and fresh dill or basil) with a ratatouille filling.
Pisto Manchego by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner Similar to ratatouille, this Spanish dish has a touch of vinegar to heighten the flavors. Serve it with grilled chorizo sausage for the authentic experience.
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