It may be officially fall, but I’m still seeing plenty of summer vegetables at the farmer’s market. Zucchini, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes, these abundant summer veggies actually make for the perfect autumn casserole: ratatouille. A traditional French Provençal stew, ratatouille is a great way to transition from summer meals into cozy fall dinners. Rustic and hearty, ratatouille is made from stewed vegetables, garlic and herbs and can sit on the stove for hours - which is perfect for a football Sunday. It utilizes the best of summer’s produce, serves a crowd and costs under $15 to make. Most importantly, it’s simple, filling and delicious.
The next time you’re at a farmer’s market drinking a PSL, picking apples and doing whatever it is 20 something girls do in the fall, grab some veggies instead and make yourself a big pot of ratatouille. Your friends will thank you and you’ll have leftovers for weeks.
4-6 large tomatoes, peeled and seeded
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 green zucchini
2 yellow zucchini
2 medium yellow onions
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 tsp herbs de Provence
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
At its most basic level ratatouille is a simple vegetable stew; and there are plenty of ways to make it. For the traditional, Provencal way, make sure to sauté the vegetables in separate pans, as they each have different cooking times and absorb different amounts of water and oil – it’s also best to season the vegetables individually to get the most amount of flavor. Alternatively, if you’re short on time, feel free to throw all the vegetables in one pan to sauté together. The longer they simmer with the tomato and garlic, the better. If you’re bringing the dish to a tailgate feel free to throw all the veggies into a crockpot (after they are sautéed). This is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day, so I like to make it in bulk and use the leftovers throughout the week on sandwiches, over scrambled eggs, etc.
Step 1: Prep all of your vegetables. I prefer to cut the zucchini, peppers, eggplant and onions into 1 inch cubes, but feel free to do it however you like (they can be sliced, roughly chopped, etc.). This stew is rustic, so it doesn’t have to look pretty. Begin by placing the prepped eggplant over a strainer and sprinkle with salt while you prep the other vegetables, then place in paper towels and squeeze. This step will help to release some of the extra water from the eggplant, which leaves you with the most flavorful parts of the vegetable.
Step 2: Drizzle two separate pans with oil and heat over medium heat. In one pan sauté the zucchini until lightly browned and sprinkle with salt. Do the same with the eggplant in the second pan. Reserve both sets of veggies in a bowl.
Step 3: Sauté the onions in one of the pans until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.
Step 3: In a large, deep casserole pot (like a Le Creuset) add all the vegetables, tomatoes, herbs and garlic. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook another 30 minutes. If you have the time, let the veggie mixture sit on the stove for another hour. The longer the veggies cook together, the smoother and more flavorful your ratatouille will be.
Top with fresh basil and parsley and serve with some crusty French bread.
A lover of food, wine and travel, Laura is a freelance writer from NYC eating and drinking her way through the world. A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, Laura is a trained chef with a degree in culinary arts and a WSET II award in wine & spirits.