Squash, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, onions, basil. These delicious things come together in a fantastic medley of summertime joy called ratatouille. Typically a provincial French dish, it’s simple. Peasant food. Abundant and inexpensive and extremely versatile.
Make a batch and enjoy it on its own (or with some crusty bread or whole wheat pasta). Then save the rest and stir it into your eggs in the morning, add it to a pizza, reheat it, whatever you want! I’ve even enjoyed it cold, combined with cottage cheese! The flavors only get lovelier as they combine over the week.
There are countless ways to prepare this dish. I have found numerous improvements over my mother’s version, which was basically 1-inch chunked veggies stewed together. Nice, but not nearly as flavorful as this version. First, cutting the veggies into smaller pieces means more flavor. Roasting them (all except for the tomatoes) makes them even more robust, and adding them to the tomatoes at the last minute ensures they are far from mushy.
Try making this dish on a weekend, then enjoy it all week long.
Makes 8 servings, 4 PPV per serving; sprinkling with 1 Tbsp finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano adds a delicious nuttiness and 1 PPV.
2 eggplants (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/4-inch cubes (no need to peel)
4 onions, chopped (approximately ¼ inch pieces)
olive oil spray, plus 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt (Kosher salt) to taste
4 yellow squash (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
8 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
7 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
Accompaniment: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Stir together eggplants, onions, and kosher salt in a large roasting pan, spray with olive oil, toss again, then roast mixture in middle of oven, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in squash, bell peppers, and more kosher salt, spray again with olive oil, and roast mixture, stirring occasionally, until bell peppers are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
While vegetables are roasting, simmer tomatoes, garlic, thyme, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, and kosher salt in a heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir tomatoes into roasted vegetables, add basil, and season ratatouille to taste with pepper. You can also add fresh oregano and parsley.