Ratatouille (not cooked by the famous chef rat, as the animated movie would have you believe) is a classic autumnal vegetable dish hailing from Provence. Some say it is a dish for leftover pieces of vegetables. Some say it’s a celebration of the bountiful harvest of early 20th century Nice in Provence, in the south of France. Whichever way it came about, if you’re worrying about foods that contain gluten, you’ll definitely enjoy this classic French delicacy. It’s one of those real comfort foods which makes you want to curl up on a nice plush couch bowl in hand, taking 2 spoonfuls at a time.
It’s not a very usual thing to cook in a Filipino kitchen, but really. What could be more Pinoy than a very delicious vegetable stew (Pakbet, anyone?)
I think the only reason we don’t embrace this dish as much as we would is because it uses Zucchini (or sukini in Tagalog), which can come a bit pricey to as much as P250.00 per kilo. But if you are ready to shell out a few extra pesos, you can have this exciting nutritious meal that can just make you parler francais. We can even get a bit Pinoy-dangerous, and try it with rice and a side of meat. (Do we dare? Of course.) Let’s get cooking!
1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces
1½ tsp salt
½ cup olive oil
1 large zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
2 big tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch think rounds
4 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 medium yellow onions, cut into ½-inch dice
1 red bell pepper—stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Red pepper flakes
1 cup basil leaves, torn
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, choped
Prepare the eggplant by mixing with 1 teaspoon salt. Let sit for 30 minutes and drain. This process sweats out the eggplant and removes extra moisture. Pat the eggplant pieces dry and set aside. Heat olive oil in a heavy pot, and cook the eggplant until golden, stirring occasionally. Set aside. In the same pot, add more oil as needed. Cook the zucchini in this same pot until golden, and then set aside with the eggplant.
Prepare half the tomatoes by crushing by hand, and seasoning with ½ teaspoon of salt. Set aside.
Tie thyme, bay leaf sprigs together. In the same pot, cook onions and herb bundle until soft and translucent. Add the bell pepper and cook stirring occasionally, until very soft.
Add garlic, pepper flakes until fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the tomatoes are very soft flavors have married. Add the reserved eggplant and zucchini and the remaining tomatoes. Lightly mix to combine.
Season with salt, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until all the vegetables have softened. Remove pot from heat, and take out the herb bundle. Top dish with the basil and parsley. Serve!
Making this makes for a surprisingly easy cleanup, no peeling, and you cook everything in just one pot! Have a go a this recipe and let us know how you find it. 🙂 Bon appetit!