Ratatouille: 10 Step Recipe to Vegetarian Heaven - UGR
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Ratatouille: 10 Step Recipe to Vegetarian Heaven

Ratatouille_10 Step Recipe to Vegetarian Heaven

Ratatouille: the gardener  vegetarian heaven

When I think Ratatouille, I seem to signal thoughts that some how feels like the finality of summer. Ambiguous thoughts that intertwine with the loss of the sun in my face– while welcoming the brisk beautiful winds of fall. Something about the  abundance of my urban garden’s harvest always sets realities pace.

Related: Growing Your Own Food: 25 Amazing Benefits

As the fall equinox appears– signaling a time of our final  summer crops , this is also a time of signaling festive harvest gathering. Most urban gardeners grow beautiful herbs, succulent vine ripen tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini and an occasional eggplant. If you’re anything like me, you will want to savory every last moment of your summertime garden and participate in a mealtime gathering, and share your bounty.

Recently, I developed my own variation of a very classic recipe. Ratatouille. A hearty vegetable stew that is famously French. Hailing from Nice, France this pedigree recipe has many variations. Now you can add mine to the list. Depending on how you prepare your Ratatouille— the history of the dish remains the same.  Ratatouille is a beautiful course vegetable stew historically prepared by the farmers of Province, France. The name, Ratatouille itself  means, “to stir up”. From the late 18th century— according to the Chefs Bible, The Larousse Gastronomique , method of preparing this succulent stew claims, “according to the purists, the different vegetables should be cooked separately, then combined and cooked slowly together until they attain a smooth, creamy consistency”.  According to the chair of the Larousse’s committee coined, “Chef of the century”— Joël Robuchon suggests —cooking each vegetable individually then adding them together will make each vegetable taste truly of itself. If you take the care, and the needed time to prepare this delicious stew— you will be rewarded with the last remnants of summer.

You might also be familiar with this famous dish as it has been eclipsed by a film of the same name deliciously starring a cartooned rat as a chef and clearly a new take on the recipe– fondly anchored from the famous American chef… Thomas Keller. 

My variation of this classic recipe with leave you thinking your vegetable stew… certainly is meaty. The caramelized vegetables are earthily sweet, and those beneath are meltingly tender from their long, slow steaming. The sauce is deep and rich, rather than watery with the reductions. There are additional steps to get it there, but worth it.

Related: An Urban Chef: Secret. How to Perfectly Roast Squash Seeds!

Chef Gigi’s Ratatouille

Ingredients: 

2 medium eggplants, diced into 1inch thick discs, and cut into

quarters

1 large onion, peeled, and chopped into 1 inch thick discs- and again, into quarters

1 large red onion, peeled, and chopped into 1 inch thick discs- and again, into quarters

2 red bell peppers, seeded and deveined, cut into large 1 inch large rough chunks

2 large yellow Biscayne peppers, or yellow bell-peppers, seeded and deveined, cut into large 1 inch rough chunks

2 large zucchini, cut irregular into 1 inch chunks ( I cut using my knife strokes at 10 O’clock, and then 2 O’clock )

2 large yellow squash, cut irregular into 1 inch large chunks

4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled, and minced- or equivalent

2 cups meaty beefsteak tomatoes de-seeded, cut in large 1 inch, rough chop chunks

2 cups of rich, homemade marinara sauce that has been reduced to thick

1 large bay leaf

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes ( optional )

1/2 cup good quality red wine or vegetable stock

1 small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, tied in a bunch

1 small bunch fresh garden thyme, tied in a bunch

Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

Freshly ground black pepper and salt to adjust seasoning as needed

 

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Here’s How : 

 

  1. Place cut eggplant in a colander and toss with a 2 tablespoons of course Kosher salt. Let sit for about 20 minutes, then pat the eggplant dry to remove excess moisture. Do not rinse.
  2. Prepare a sheet pan with a silicon mat, parchment or a piece of foil. Set aside on top of your stovetop.
  3. In a very large Dutch oven, or heavy bottomed 8-10 quart stock pot, heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil over high heat.
  4. Season the eggplant with fresh ground pepper and place into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown about 1-2 minutes- carefully remove with a slotted spoon to the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Add an additional 2 tablespoons of oil to the hot stockpot. Reduce heat to medium high, and add the onions. Cook stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to caramelize and become tender. About 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove onions and garlic to the prepared sheet pan, next to the eggplant. Repeat this process with the peppers and tomatoes, squash and zucchini.
  6. Once all the vegetables have had their own cook time, return them all back in the stock pot and reduce to medium low heat. Quickly deglaze the pan before it cools off with the red wine or stock. Reduce most of the moisture to evaporation.
  7. Taste, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper- add chili flakes. Add the herb bundles and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for an additional 1-2 minutes just to release the herbs natural essential oils.
  8. Add your reduced marina sauce. Stir gently to combine. Place a lid on top and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 30-45 minutes or until the vegetables have become tender.
  9. If your stew yields too much liquid, strain liquid into a sauce pan and reduce to thicken on high heat.  Then, gently  then add into main pot. Stir carefully not to break the vegetables up into small pieces.
  10. If you are in a hurry, ( and not cooking vegan ) add about 2-4  tablespoons of very cold butter cubes to the saucepan reduction. Stir to thicken, and return to the pot. Stir carefully to incorporate. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve hot, or cold. Happy Harvest!

Read next: Guide to Chili Peppers Varieties

About the Author

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Chef Gigi is recognized nationally as an expert in culinary education. She specializes in families and adults to help increase nutritional awareness and help take some of the stress out of being a busy-aware adult. Chef has coached thousands of children and adults how to shop, prep, cook and eat better. She has developed signature techniques while teaching two decades of hands on classes, private events, public speaking, writing, professional culinary demonstrations, television and radio engagements.Gigi, also was the former Academic Director who wrote and implemented the famed French Culinary School- Le Cordon Bleu’s, Hospitality Management Program. Currently, Gigi works as a freelance food writer, learning and development coach– while continuing as an instructional designer. Chef co-authored, “Learning with Little Lulu Lemon” and has appeared in a variety of media outlets including, Radio Disney and Bay Area local television broadcast with Spencer Christian, on NBC’s “View from the Bay” and CBS, “Eye on the Bay”. Regularly contributed to a monthly column, ” The Family Kitchen” for Bay Area Parent Magazine; a subsidiary of Dominion Parenting Media is the nation’s largest publisher of regional parenting magazines.In 2015 Chef Gigi went on to study at the National Association of Sports Medicine to further understand the impact of movement and nutrition on our bodies.Chef Gigi keeps bees, chickens and grows her own food. Chef contributes monthly to Urban Gardeners Republic with amazing recipes for the garden. Be sure to follow her here.