Laura has been telling me about this thing called “Ratatouille” just about forever. She told me it’s an end of the summer dish that’s full of tons of great veggies. To me, that sounded like some other meals I’ve created, so I didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until she picked out a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi‘s cookbook called Plenty that I gave the idea a second thought.
Ratatouille is what’s considered a coarse stew. It’s got an incredibly diverse base of many different types of vegetables. Traditionally included are tomatoes as a foundation for sauteed garlic, onions, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, marjoram, fennel and basil or bay leaf and thyme. In the recipe I share below, things are mixed up a bit, but nonetheless delicious. In today’s recipe, we have some butternut squash, parsnip, green beans, potato and a bit of parsley as a garnish.
As I was preparing this dish, I found that I should have taken advantage of a larger pot and added much more of the ingredients that I used. Being a stew, the sky’s the limit and I would have preferred to have leftovers for many a night. As it stands, Laura and I have dinner for the next two nights. Next time, I’m going to double up.
I was surprised at how well the flavors of all the ingredients came together. Initially, a few things are sauteed, so a fond is created at the bottom of the pot. Subsequent ingredients are then sauteed as well, creating even more flavor. Finally, everything is simmered and then baked in the oven. Overall, the cook time is over an hour. It’s worth it because a lot of sweetness comes out during cooking, making for a really wonderful tasting meal.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Sweet Onion, Chopped
4 Teaspoons Garlic, Minced
1 Green Chile, Sliced
1 Large Red Pepper, Chopped
1 Medium Sized Butternut Squash, Peeled and Cut into 1 Inch Pieces
4 Parsnips, Peeled and Chopped
1/2 Pound Fresh Green Beans, Trimmed
2 Medium Zucchini, Trimmed and Cut into 1 Inch Pieces
1/2 Large Eggplant, Cut into 1 Inch Pieces
2 Medium Potatoes, Cut into 1 Inch Pieces
2 Medium Tomatoes, Chopped
1/2 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
Ground Black Pepper
1-2 Cups Water
Parsley as Garnish, Chopped
I want you to know that you can take liberties with this recipe. In our next version, I’ll substitute sweet potatoes for the regular potatoes I used this time. I may also add some carrots. As you can see, as long as it fits in the pot, it’s fair game.
Prep All the Ingredients
This recipe moves kind of fast at the beginning, so it’s very much encouraged that you have all the vegetables prepped before starting anything else. Since I took photos of almost everything I did, I’ll share them with you here.
First, I peeled and cubed the butternut squash. This was probably the most time consuming of all the prepping tasks.
Then I peeled and chopped up the onion and after that, I chopped the red pepper and peeled and chopped the parsnip.
Finally, I prepped the green beans, zucchini, eggplant, potatoes and tomatoes. There were a few other things in there that I didn’t grab photos of.
Cook the Onions, Red Pepper, Squash & Parsnip
Warm a large pot over medium heat. Then, add 3 tablespoons of oil. When the pot is to temperature, add the onion, stir and cook for 5 minutes. After that, add in the garlic, chile and red pepper. Sautee for another 5 minutes while stirring.
When that 5 minutes has passed, add in the squash and parsnip and cook, while stirring, for another 5 minutes. These steps are meant to slightly soften the vegetables while creating a fond at the bottom of the pot.
When this step is complete, remove these ingredients and add them to a large bowl.
Cook the Green Beans, Zucchini & Eggplant
In the same pot as before (which is now empty), add 3 more tablespoons of oil. Then, add the green beans, zucchini and eggplant. Cook and stir for 5 minutes.
Combine All Ingredients
At this point, you can add the ingredients you earlier removed from the pot, back into the pot. Then, add the potatoes, tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
Then, add enough water to the pot that about half of the vegetables are covered. Cover the pot and turn the heat to high. When the water comes to a boil, lower the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking on the stove top, arrange one oven rack so it’s in the center position. Then, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Bake the Vegetables
After everything has simmered for 30 minutes, taste the liquid and vegetables. If they need more seasoning, this is the time to add more salt and pepper. Once that’s finished, use a large ladle to scoop the vegetables out of the pot and into a large baking dish. Then, pour the remaining liquid into the baking dish as well.
Place the baking dish into the oven for 30 minutes. When finished, remove and turn off the oven heat. This is what things should look like.
All that simmering and baking released tons of flavor into the liquid. It should taste very good by this point.
Plate & Serve
Scoop some ratatouille out of the baking dish and plate it in a few bowls. You can chop up some parsley to sprinkle over the vegetables as a garnish. I thought that looked nice after I did it. Finally, serve.
The Final Dish
I’ve become a fond admirer of this dish and I’ll certainly be making it again. Next time, as I mentioned above, I’ll be adding a lot more ingredients in a much larger pot. That should be fun. Enjoy!