Back to updating those forever classics, just in time for Labor Day. Ratatouille is a dish for all seasons, but shines particularly brightly in the Provençal summer when summer squashes and tomatoes are at their peak.
This is a rustic dish at its roots so, do not be intimidated by the amount of prep work – nothing needs to be chopped too finely and as long as you add and cook all of the vegetables in the right order, the flavors will meld together seamlessly and (almost!) effortlessly.
I spiced things up, no pun intended, by adding a bit of harissa paste and some balsamic vinegar into the base of the ratatouille. Preserved lemons, chopped up, would also be a welcome addition.
One more note: I like to roast the eggplant, but you do not have to do that – you can cook it in the pot first, then take it out to add in later. Same goes for the peppers, if you’d prefer them to have more of a charred flavor. No right or wrong answers here just depends on your personal preference!
- 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 pound green and yellow summer squash, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 5 large cloves of garlic, diced
- 1 pounds red and yellow tomatoes, diced
- 1 pound of baby eggplant, roasted and chopped
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon harissa paste
- 1 bunch of fresh basil, split in half
- olive oil
- salt, pepper
- Preheat oven to 400F and roast the eggplant whole for about 30 minutes until soft and lightly charred. Wait for it to cool, then chop roughly.
- In the meantime, start on the rest of the vegetables. In a heavy bottomed pot, cook onions in olive oil until translucent and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes. Then, add the garlic, harissa, and half of the basil (leave it whole and on the stem, you will take it out when the ratatouille is done). Season with a good pinch of salt. Cook for a few more minutes.
- Add the pepper to the onion and garlic mixture and cook for 2-4 minutes. Now, add the squash and stir to combine. Cook for another few minutes as the vegetables begin to soften.
- Now, the fun part when it all comes together! Add the tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes - the ratatouille will now start to look more uniform and more like ratatouille.
- Now add the roasted eggplant and the balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Cook for 10-12 more minutes until all the vegetables are softened (tip: check the peppers,mainly).
- Take off of heat, taste for seasoning. Take out the whole basil. Add salt and pepper and a little bit of olive oil, to taste.
- Chop the remaining basil leaves and mix them into the prepared ratatouille. Serve warm or cold.
The other joyous thing about ratatouille is that it just gets better the next day and the day after (if it lasts that long). Serve is hot or cold, with crusty bread, grilled fish, rice, eggs etc.