Ratatouille Niçoise Rustique

Ratatouille Niçoise Rustique

Ingredients:
3-4 Tomatoes, ripe
1 lg Zucchini, diced
1 Japanese Eggplant, diced
1 – 2 Bell Peppers
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
5 cloves Garlic, sliced
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 sprig fresh Rosemary
2 sprigs fresh Thyme
2 tsp fresh Basil, chopped fine
2 tsp fresh Parsley, chopped fine
1 Bay Leaf
1/4 cup Pinot Grigio or other Dry white wine.
1 Tbsp Salt
Pepper to taste
Water for Parboiling

Directions:

  • Bring a Pot of water to a boil. This will be used to help remove the skins from the Tomatoes.
  • While the water is being brought to a boil, prepare all the vegetables. When dicing, try to keep the sizes of the items the same.
  • When the water boils, use tongs, to place the Tomatoes into the water for 45 seconds. Remove them and peel the skins off. Be careful as they will be hot.
  • Slice the Tomatoes horizontally and scoop out the seeds. Remove the stem from the top half by cutting it out with a paring knife.
  • In a Dutch Oven, add the Onions, Garlic, and Bell Peppers to 1/2 the Olive Oil and 1/2 the Salt.
  • Saute on medium heat, sweating the onions, and cooking down the Peppers for 2-3 minutes.
  • In a separate skillet, add the Zucchini and Eggplant to the remaining Olive Oil and Salt.
  • Saute on medium-low heat, allowing the sides of the Zucchini and Eggplant to brown a little–about 3-6 minutes.
  • Stir both pots often so as to not allow anything to burn.
  • Add the Tomatoes and herbs to the Onion Pepper mixture and cook until the Zucchini and Eggplant in the other pot are lightly browned.
  • Add the Zucchini and Eggplant to the Tomato Mixture.
  • Add the Wine at this point, and mix well.
  • Let stew on the lowest setting, covered for 30-40 minutes, stirring often, to make sure nothing is sticking. Remove the Bay Leaf and Sprigs of Herbs before serving.

Makes 4 side-dish servings.

NOTES: Ratatouille is a Provencal dish–often called a peasant dish because of the simple ingredients. In the 1970s it became popular in America thanks to Julia Childs. There was a resurgence in the first decade of the 21st century with Disney’s Ratatouille, a film about a French rat who dreams of becoming a chef–and succeeds! I will admit, that my desire to make this came solely from the movie–yes I hold my head in shame. One aspect of the movie does ring true, and spoke to me, and that was the common mantra that “Anyone Can Cook”. And I think that is VERY important to remember.

Looking at the Ratatouille recipes that were out there, I noticed that their production suggested the individual cooking of each vegetable–something that just seems counter-intuitive to a “peasant” dish, but rather a chef’s way to keep individual flavors and deal with varying cooking times. My version uses two cooking dishes, dividing up the items based on how I thought it would be best to cook them.

This serves as a side dish but can also be served over Rice or Pasta as an entree.  I prefer it as a side dish with a good roast.

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