Friday, October 24, 2014

Foreign Food Friday: Ratatouille

I don't think I've ever walked to the beach on an October morning in my spring suit, but this morning I did. The streets were damp and there was fog hanging in the crevasses of the cliff. Some of the fog was even turning light pink off-shore and looked especially pretty when a white seagull went past it. The water is almost 70º, though, so it doesn't matter what month it is when it comes to wetsuits.

Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned I was getting bored with some of our usual menu items? And that trying recipes from other countries might be the best way to mix things up? Well I got an email from a reader named Adeline containing four recipes her parents used to cook for her as a child growing up in the south of France. I hadn't ever tried any of them, so I was stoked and touched she took the time to send them to me. Ratatouille is hard to spell, but not too hard to make. I will definitely be cooking it again because it's healthy and doesn't taste anything like the things I usually make. It was perfect for fall, too. 

Here is a little story Adeline shared with me about one of her childhood memories of her parent's cooking and below is her parent's recipe for Ratatouille. Thanks Adeline! We loved it! 

"Typing up recipes reminded of eating family gratins with my family when I was a kid. My siblings and I weren't the biggest fans of cauliflower at the time, so we all had different techniques. My brother has always been the responsible, no-nonsense one, so he ate the veggies together with the cheese topping, just like my parents. My sister and I separated the 'yummy' cheese and 'yucky' cauliflower. She ate the cheese first, in case she suddenly died at the dinner table and missed out on the best part of the meal! My technique was to eat the cauliflower very fast while holding my breath and quickly drink a huge glass of water to avoid the taste, then eat the cheese as a reward. That must have been SO much fun for my poor parents... :) "

from Adeline & Family 

The main trick is to sauté each vegetable separately. Use the same quantity of eggplant/zucchini/peppers. Ratatouille can be served over rice, by itself or as a dip. When my grandma made too much ratatouille she'd even turn it into a pie (spoon over shortcrust pastry, sprinkle cheese on top and pop it in the oven).


3 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 large or 2 small aubergine (eggplant), diced
1/2 cup onion
2 courgettes (zucchini), diced (*I did 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash)
2 peppers, diced
2 fresh tomatoes, diced, or half a can of tomatoes 
1-2 fresh basil stems, whole
Add the following herbs to your liking: 
Salt (be generous)


In a large pan (I've always seen my parents and grandma use a Le Creuset-type cast iron French oven, but any regular pan with a lid will work) sauté the garlic and onions in olive oil with some herbs or dry thyme, about 1-2 mins. Add the eggplant and lower the heat; cover the pan and sauté until partially cooked and caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 5 mins. Add a little bit more oil if the eggplant gets too dry (they shouldn't stick to the pan). Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, sauté the peppers until they're partially cooked, about 4-5 mins. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Sauté the zucchini (and squash if you added it) in the pan until they're partially cooked, about 4-5 mins. If they render too much water, just turn the heat up a bit until evaporated. 

Add the garlic, eggplant and peppers back into the pan along with the fresh or canned tomatoes and the basil leaves. Add some herbs and 1-2 bay leaves and a dash of paprika. Cover and cook on low-medium heat for another 30-45 mins or until the vegetables are cooked through. 

Can be served at room temperature or cold, but Scott and I ate it hot. 

+If you have any special vegetarian friendly recipes from another country or culture, please don't hesitate to send them over


  1. I absolutely adore ratatouille! It's such a versatile dish whether you eat it plain, on noodles, on rice, or in a bread bowl. When I went to France,my host mother made this one night and it was the best thing I think I've ever eaten in my life! Thanks for sharing your recipe, I'll have to try it out!

    1. I can't wait to try it the other ways you mentioned, especially the bread bowl! That must have been so unique to spend time in France with a local family.

  2. i love the name - Ratatouille. and of course, i can't help but think of the movie. i never try it - i should.

    1. yeah, I love that movie too. I try not to think about rats when I'm eating though, ;)

  3. Ahh how I love ratatouille! You should definetly also try Moroccan cuisine, Turkish and different Asian foods. All are so easy to turn to vegetarian, and delicious spices!

    1. All of those sound good! And I'm not sure I've had Moroccan or Turkish cuisine. I love Asian food, though. It's always a tie between Mexican and Asian food when it comes to my favorite kind of food.

  4. I love the top photo, for a moment you looked like a butterfly. I love ratatouille, and I always put it with rice. I haven't made it for ages though, because the children are a bit picky with peppers and aubergines. I live in hope that one day they'll love them. I hope you and Scott have a good weekend. CJ xx

    1. A butterfly, :). I had to ask Adeline what aubergines were because I had no idea they were eggplants! I'm sure your boys will come around with the ratatouille. I know with your beautiful garden that you have had the chance to expose their pallets to many vegetables. Hope you enjoy your weekend too!

  5. What did you serve yours with? Rice or on its own, other?

    1. Garlic bread, but next time I'm thinking pasta or (garlic) bread bowl :)

  6. This looks delicious! We seem to be in a bit of a dinner rut, too. I want something new and delicious, but don't want to take the time to make it. I need to just make a huge batch so it lasts for days. We're finally getting our perfect fall weather here. I was worried we had missed it since September was so cold. Hope you have a great weekend, Devon!

    1. I used to be all about making big meals that lasted days, but I can't do it anymore. If I have to eat something more than twice (lately even more than once) I have to almost completely re-invent the flavors because I get sick of it. Glad your weather is cooperating!

  7. Ever since seeing the Pixar movie, I've wanted to make this. Now I have a recipe to try! Yay! Thanks for sharing Devon. :)

  8. I love that she sent you her family's recipe! How sweet! And it looks delicious!

  9. I am now seriously craving some ratatouille!!!


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