The French classic Ratatouille is made by cooking each ingredient separately and then cooking it in the oven for 45 minutes. By that time, the vegetables are too soft and quite mushy for me. I prefer my vegetables not overcooked so I made this quick pan-sautéed Ratatouille. It’s perfect for a weeknight dinner when you don’t have to wait 1 1/2 hours for your side dish to cook. Who has the time?
Tips to Prepare Ratatouille
Fresh vegetables are very important in this recipe. Pick firm and shiny zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper. You can substitute 4 baby round eggplant instead of the Japanese variety. Fresh thyme came from my herb garden outside but you can find them in grocery stores. Just a few snips of this herb gives the Ratatouille a nice flavor. Sometimes I love to add creamy goat cheese (optional) as a garnish on top at the end.
Cutting the vegetables the same size is also important so they all cook at the same time. Cut the zucchini in half crosswise. Next, cut it into quarters lengthwise and chop the 1/2 inch long. Same thing with the eggplant. For the bell pepper, cut it in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and stem. Then cut it again lengthwise in 8 strips. Lastly, chop the strips of bell pepper into 1/2 inch pieces.
I sautéed the onions first in hot olive oil for a few minutes and then added the minced garlic. After the garlic is ready, I add the rest of the vegetables in this order: tomatoes, bell pepper, eggplant, and zucchini. Then sprinkle it with thyme leaves (from 3 sprigs of fresh thyme) and salt and freshly ground pepper. Let this cook for 5 minutes, stir it once, and keep cooking for another 4-5 minutes. Don’t leave the stove at this time because the vegetables might overcook. You still want them to have their bright colors and tender but not mushy. Drizzle it with a bit more olive olive before serving.
So make this rustic Ratatouille as a side dish and you don’t have to worry about slaving in front of the stove for a long time. Au revoir!