If you find yourself with a Saturday to kill this summer, put on your best apron, channel your inner French grandmother, turn up your Frenchified playlist, and make a huge pot of ratatouille to share with your friends. Ratatouille is a hearty stew of summer veggies and most certainly love because it takes hours to make. Well, the way I did it took hours. Apparently there is much debate over the correct way to make a ratatouille. But Julia Child kinda did it this way, so I figure it’s the best way.
1 head garlic, minced (Yes, an entire head. Not one clove. One head.)
3 shallots, minced
1 large onion, minced
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
2 large red peppers, puréed in the food processor
6 large tomatoes (or about 4 pounds), puréed in the food processor
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3-4 summer squash, ½-inch dice
2-3 zucchini, ½-inch dice
1-2 eggplants (or about 1½ pounds), ½-inch dice
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Warm ½ cup of olive oil over medium-low heat in a heavy stockpot and add the garlic, shallot, and onion. Cook until softened, stirring often so they don’t brown. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, chop your vegetables and preheat the oven to 450.
- Once the onion mixture has thickened, add the puréed red peppers and season lightly with salt and pepper. The peppers will have a lot of water, so let the mixture cook down, stirring every few minutes until the consistency is a rich jam.
- Next, add the puréed tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to medium-low while the mixture reduces. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir the tomatoes occasionally so they don’t burn on the bottom.
- Meanwhile, toss the squash, zucchini, and eggplant with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Put the squash and zucchini on one baking sheet and the eggplant on the other because the eggplant will probably take a little longer to cook. Spread in one layer, roast until brown, and turn occasionally for even color. Once the veggies are tender and golden, remove from the oven and let them cool a bit before putting them together in a big bowl.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 400. Place the stockpot in the oven, uncovered, for about an hour.
- When the tomato mixture has reduced down to a thick texture, return the pot to the stovetop on low heat.
- Stir the chopped basil into the tomato base. Carefully fold in the rest of the vegetables. Serve with your favorite pasta, crusty bread, or couscous.