What is Ratatouille?

Aniza Pourtauborde

Ratatouille is a classic stewed vegetable dish that comes from the French region of Provence. The first half of its name, rata is believed to be a slang word for "chunky stew" while the second half is derived from the French verb touillir which means "to stir."

Olive oil, which is used in making ratatouille.
Olive oil, which is used in making ratatouille.

A popular and versatile dish, ratatouille can be consumed hot, cold or at room temperature. In a meal, it can be served as an appetizer, main course or a side dish to pasta, rice, couscous and noodles.

Ratatouille is made with garlic.
Ratatouille is made with garlic.

Ratatouille is relatively easy to prepare and comprises of a variety of fresh vegetables, which includes tomatoes, zucchinis, eggplants, bell peppers, onions and garlic. Other ingredients such as bay leaves and herbes de Provence are also added to further enhance the taste and aroma of this delicious French stew. When cooking ratatouille, it is important that one does not compromise the savory flavor of this dish for a quickly prepared meal. It is highly recommended to cook each vegetable slowly and separately before combining them all in one pot towards the end of the cooking time.

How to Make Ratatouille

1.1 pounds (500 g) of tomatoes
1.1 pounds (500 g) of eggplants
1.1 pounds (500 g) of zucchinis
1.1 pounds (500 g) of bell peppers
4 onions
4 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Herbes de Provence
Bay leaves
Salt and pepper

Rinse and dice the tomatoes, eggplants, zucchinis and bell peppers. Slice the onions finely and chop the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large cooking pot. Begin making the ratatouille by sautéing the eggplants. Once they are cooked through, dish them onto a plate and reserve them on the side. Do the same with the zucchinis and bell peppers. Next, sauté the finely sliced onions until they become slightly colored. Add on the diced tomatoes and cook for about five minutes.

To make the ratatouille, combine all the cooked eggplants, zucchinis, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes into the same pot. Shake a healthy helping of herbes de Provence over the vegetables. Add one or two bay leaves as well. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Cover the cooking pot and allow the vegetables to stew for thirty minutes. At the end of the thirty minutes, stir the chopped garlic into the ratatouille. Cook for another five minutes. Finally, take out the bay leaves from the ratatouille and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Serve the ratatouille immediately as a hot accompaniment to your couscous, rice, pasta or noodles. You may also let it cool before placing it in the refrigerator overnight. Then, serve it as a cold appetizer for your next meal.

Ratatouille can be served during any course in a meal.
Ratatouille can be served during any course in a meal.

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