Ratatouille is a rustic garden dish. It’s meant to be fast and savory without a lot of flair. Making it fancy is putting lipstick on a pig. Anyone who says different’s a poseur. [So there!]
The following is a basic recipe. It can be spiced up by adding bell pepper and garlic or a hot pepper. But remember, overcomplicating this recipe will destroy it. It will look prettier but taste worse.
Ratatouille (4 servings)
- 1 onion or 2 shallots, rough diced
- 1 zucchini, cut into ¼ inch cubed
- 1 eggplant, cut into ¼ inch cubed
- 3 plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350° F. Heat one tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and sauté onion until translucent, adding salt to taste. Once done, place to the side, wipe the frying pan clean and repeat for the zucchini and eggplant. Wiping the frying pan between vegetables is important because you want their tastes to be unique and unmingled.
Add the final tbsp of oil to the pan, put in the tomatoes flesh side down. Cover and steam until the skins begin to wrinkle and separate from the fruit. Lift off skins with a fork and mash tomatoes into a paste. Then turn up heat and stir until the liquid is thickened.
Place the tomato paste and sautéed vegetables in an ovenproof casserole. Sprinkle on oregano and pepper and gently, briefly combine ingredients.
Place in the oven for half an hour, or until the top crisps.
Note: make this into a vegetarian main course by adding baked eggs…. Before putting it in the oven, use a wet spoon to create a depression in the ratatouille and crack an egg into each depression. Bake for twenty minutes, or until the egg starts to go from translucent to opaque and and spongy. At this point the white should be fully cooked and the yolk still custardy.