In the hot days of summer, ratatouille is the perfect vehicle for all those bountiful farm fresh vegetables – eggplant, yellow and green squash, onions, peppers, garlic, as well as tomatoes. Oooh, don’t forget the mushrooms…This does require a fair amount of stovetop cooking, but you can do it in advance and serve it cold, which is absolutely sensational!
Jump to Sue’s Ratatouille
I have a distinct way of making ratatouille, which I think brings out the best in all the vegetables. I use two different pans. First, I get the chopped onions softening in a largish (8 quart) stockpot, while I sauté each kind of vegetable separately in a nonstick pan. As they're finished, I add them to the onions. I add a hit of garlic and as little oil as possible (maybe 1 1/2 teaspoons) to each vegetable and I season as I go.
I like using a combination of canned AND fresh tomatoes. I add the canned ones when the onions are softened. I throw the fresh tomatoes into the sauté pan last to pick up all the yummy flavors of the other vegetables. Lastly, everything gets simmered together.
I admit there’s a lot of chopping in this recipe. But I love
surrounding myself with a pile of vegetables, a sharp knife and a cutting
board. What could be more fun?
Tomato Note: I never hesitate to open a can of tomatoes,
even if I'm using just a little bit. I like to freeze the remainder in smallish
amounts, so I have them on hand. Here, I used some diced tomatoes I had in
the freezer, plus fresh ones. I like the juiciness of the fresh ones and the
more concentrated flavor of the canned ones. But use any combination you wish.
If you're using all fresh, though, add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste when you add the chopped tomatoes.
Sue's Ratatouille (makes a boatload)
Add onions to a 6 to 8 quart stockpot with a spoonful of oil. Season liberally with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. (From here on in, I’ll just say “season with salt and pepper”.) Cook on medium high heat until you hear a sizzle. Cover and turn down heat to low. Cook for at least 10 minutes, until the onions are completely soft, stirring occasionally.
Stir in canned tomatoes and simmer on low heat while you attend to the other vegetables.
Add a spoonful of oil to large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add eggplant and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes on medium high heat. Stir in a little garlic. Cover and cook on medium low for 2 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the eggplant is mostly softened. Add to stockpot with onions. (This is the one vegetable that may require more oil.)
Continue with each vegetable - the zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms and peppers. Add oil to the sauté pan, add each vegetable (separately) with seasoning, cook on medium high heat for 2 minutes. Then add garlic, cover and cook on medium low heat for 2 minutes. Cook each vegetable in turn until they’re happily softened and add each batch to the stockpot.
Add chopped tomatoes to sauté pan. Bring to a simmer and stir well to get all the flavor from the pan. Carefully add tomatoes to stockpot. Stir in parsley. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve immediately or at room temperature. Or refrigerate overnight and serve cold, which is outstanding!