RATATOUILLE (Provencal eggplant casserole, for 6)

Ratatouille is not a quick preparation, but it can be made a full day ahead of serving and either be reheated or served cold.  It traditionally is served with plain roasted or broiled beef, lamb or chicken, or with a pot au feu.

1 pound eggplant

1 pound zucchini

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed

½ pound (about 1-1/2 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions

2 (about 1 cup) sliced green bell peppers

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, if necessary

2 cloves mashed garlic

salt and pepper to taste

1 pound firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced (1-1/2 cups pulp)

3 tablespoons minced parsley


1.  Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8 inch thick, about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide.  Scrub the zucchini, slice off both ends and cut into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices.  Place the vegetables into a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon salt.  Let stand for 30 minutes, drain and pat each slice dry with paper towels.

2.  One layer at a time, saute the eggplant, and then the zucchini in 4 tablespoons hot olive oil for about 1 minute on each side to brown very lightly.  Remove to a side dish.

3.  In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in the oil (add 2 or 3 tablespoons more if necessary) for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned.  Stir in the garlic and season to taste.

4.  Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8 inch strips.  Lay them over the onions and peppers.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes have begun to render their juice.  Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil for several minutes, until juice has almost entirely evaporated.

5.  Place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of a 2-1/2 quart fireproof casserole about 2-1/2 inches deep and sprinkle over it 1 tablespoon minced parsley.  Arrange half the eggplant and zucchini on top, then add half the remaining tomatoes and parsley.  Put in the remaining eggplant and zucchini and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.

6.  Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.  Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices.  Correct seasoning if necessary.  Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until the juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil.  Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch on the bottom of the casserole.

7.  Set aside uncovered.  Reheat slowly at serving time, or serve cold.

from Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One

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