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Sautéed Ratatouille

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Serves six to eight

Yields 5 to 6 cups

  • To learn more, read:
    The New Ratatouille
  • by Martha Holmberg from Fine Cooking
    Issue 80

This ratatouille takes a bit of time, but the deep, rich flavors are worth the effort, and it yields enough for delicious leftovers. Try it in a Provençal Vegetable Tart or White Bean & Ratatouille Gratin.

  • 1 lb. eggplant (1 medium globe), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 3-1/2 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • 9 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz. onion (1 medium), thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 lb. red bell peppers (2 medium), peeled (as much as possible with a vegetable peeler; serrated works best), cored and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 lb. zucchini (3 or 4 small), halved lengthwise and cut into 1/8-inch-thick half-moons (about 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic (6 to 8 large cloves)
  • 1 lb. tomatoes (2 medium), peeled (with a serrated vegetable peeler; otherwise, skip the peeling), cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • Few drops hot sauce
  • 2 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh basil (a chiffonade)
  • 2 Tbs. roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh mint (a chiffonade) (optional)

Toss the eggplant with 1 tsp. kosher salt in a colander and let sit in the sink or over a bowl while you prepare the other vegetables.

Sauté the vegetables one at a time.
Tip:
If the juices in the pan look black and burned at any time, rinse the pan with water and wipe it out. If not, leave the cooked-on juices in the pan; they'll add flavor to the final dish.

In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, the thyme, and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and deep golden brown, 15 to 20 min. Scrape into a clean colander or large strainer that's set over a bowl to catch the juices.

In the same skillet, heat another 3 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften and get browned around the edges, about 5 min. Add the rosemary, lower the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they're extremely soft and sweet, another 10 to 15 min. Gently fold into the onions in the colander.

Heat another 1 Tbs. oil over high heat, and as soon as you see the first hint of smoke, add the zucchini and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt. Shake and stir to distribute the zucchini slices evenly in the pan so they all get browned. Cook over high heat until tender and nicely browned on both sides, 5 to 7 min. Add to the colander and gently fold with the onions and peppers.

Finish with the eggplant and tomatoes.

Dump the eggplant onto some paper towels, and pat to blot up surface water. Heat 3 Tbs. olive oil in the skillet over high heat, add the eggplant (no additional salt), and shake and stir to distribute the cubes evenly in the pan so they all get browned. Cook over high heat until lightly browned on several surfaces, about 5 min, and then lower the heat to medium. Cook until the eggplant is very tender--not at all al dente--another 13 to 15 min. Fold into the other vegetables.

Add the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and let sizzle for about 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes and all their juices and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt. Cook until the tomatoes collapse slightly and the juices thicken and darken a bit, 3 to 5 min. As you're cooking, scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze all the cooked-on vegetable juices. Add to the colander, scraping out all the juice from the skillet, and fold everything together.

Let the vegetables rest, then reduce the juices

Now let the vegetables sit in the colander for 15 to 20 min. At that point, you should have around 1/2 cup liquid in the bowl. Pour it into a small saucepan, heat until gently boiling, and boil until the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup. The flavor should be very bright and intense. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and a few drops of the hot sauce to taste. Fold this glaze into the vegetables, along with the basil, parsley, and mint (if using). Taste for salt and add more if needed.

Serve now or later.

Serve soon, if you want it to be warm, or let the ratatouille cool and serve at room temperature.

Make Ahead Tips

This ratatouille is delicious when made a day or two ahead. Just store it in the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature or gently heat it in a baking dish in a low oven before serving.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on eight servings; Calories (kcal): 200; Fat (g): 16; Fat Calories (kcal): 140; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 3; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): 15; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 290; Cholesterol (mg): 0; Fiber (g): 5;

Photo: Scott Phillips

As a life-long lover of what we always just called "mom's eggplant casserole, this is an over-the-top ratatouille! A bit labor intense, but worth it! Due to lack of space, I put the sauteed veggies in a single bowl and added them back, juices and all, to the canned tomatoes I'd let simmer to thicken. The addition of lemon really brightens this dish, but I didn't use mint as it can be overwhelming.....maybe next time. This is delicious on pasta, bruschetta, or as a stand-alone, stand-out side dish!

This is SO worth the effort! The veggies take on a richness that makes them taste completely indulgent. I agree that two or three pans at once makes a difference in prep time. Make enough for leftovers: slather on a sandwich, top a puff pastry, toss with pasta.

So worth the effort. One only has to make this dish to be reminded how amazing vegetables truly are! I added sautéed quartered mushrooms to the veggies part and a healthy dose of red pepper flakes to the sauce while it reduced. Lots of good yum-yums in this dish! Would make with 2-3 pans to shorten the process next time. Lovely over wholewheat pasta, second day left overs for lasagna.

Except for the onions and garlic, made this with produce and herbs right from our garden. I chose the two pan method, made the cooking time a lot quicker. Served with a simple roasted salmon filet-and ate the rest afterward on crackers. Delicious!

Wow is this good. I did substitute one can of diced tomatoes for fresh (I just added to the colander the whole can without draining). I didn't add mint since for this type of dish I think that the flavor is too much of a contrast.

It's work but so good that I end up eating half of it straight out of the pan! I was recently served ratatouille the other way (i.e. all veggies cooked together) and it literally paled in comparison, washed out and mushy. This beats it by a mile!

To much work for what you get. I am sure there have to bee and easy recipe.

I have made this a few times and I find I only glance at the recipe now to get the general idea. It is always delicious. I have 2-3 pans going at once to shorten the prep time. I then cook smooth pasta sheets and make a little plate lasagna for each person with a sprinkle of cheese between each layer. Usually 2 pasta sheets per person starting with a little rataouille then a pasta sheet, then cheese....

Magnificent presentation of late summer and autumn vegetable bounty that always receives raves from those to whom it is served. This has become a staple in our Labor Day Party buffet menu (we triple the recipe). It is especially nice and hearty for the vegetarians on the guest list. Other than leaving out the mint and increasing the basil by the same amount, we follow the recipe exactly.

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