Finding out that ratatouille was to be one of the featured recipes of the JC100 celebrations made my decision to try the recipe very timely. I had been planning on making this dish, as you can see from the food I brought home from St. Lawrence Market (https://whatfoodimade.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/img_3822.jpg).
On first reading this recipe for ratatouille it may look like it’s a complicated recipe, but it’s not! Just a bit time consuming, because the vegetables are cooked separately to start. In fact, what I’ve found with the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking is that the instructions are clear and make any recipe quite easy. Once you jump in and commit, Julia is there to help you along.
I’ll be putting that claim to the test soon enough, as I plan to make something from this cookbook that I’ve never made before, but we’ll get to that soon enough. What is important whenever cooking something for the first time is to read the recipe all the way through so there are no ticking time bombs waiting for you.
Here’s how it went:
Got the ingredients together.
Lots of chopping ahead:
Sliced green pepper.
Now we’re cooking:
Eggplant and zucchini.
Next: onions and peppers.
Then garlic and tomatoes.
When all the cooking has been done, assemble the ingredients into a casserole.
Ratatouille is very, very good with lamb chops.
Here’s the recipe, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck.
1 lb. eggplant
1 lb. zucchini
1 tsp. salt
4-6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 lb. (about 1-1/2 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
2 sliced green peppers (about 1 cup)
2 cloves mashed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced
3 Tbsp. minced parsley
Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8″ thick, about 3″ long and 1″ wide. Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends and cut into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices. Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain. Dry each slice in a towel.
One layer at a time, sauté the eggplant, and then the zucchini in hot olive oil for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly. Remove to a side dish.
In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Stir in the garlic and season to taste.
Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8″ strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until 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.
Place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of a 2 1/2 quart casserole (about 2 1/2″ deep) and sprinkle over it 1 tablespoon of fresh, minced parsley. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.
Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip the casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Correct seasoning if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil. Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole. Serves 6-8.