Ratatouille

by Trans Chef

Ratatouille is one of those country dishes that, despite its simple ingredients and appearance, is surprisingly complex to produce well. If you’re not careful it can easily turn into a watery/oily bowl of mushy vegetables. Something no one ever wants! However, with a couple simple little steps you’ll be well on your way to mastering not only ratatouille, but a whole world of wonderfully exciting veggie dishes that will keep your family coming back for MORE!

Looking back ratatouille was not a dish I remember anyone every mentioning outside of cooking school. Even then it was basically a bowl of non-descript veggies floating in an oily broth. Which is really kind of sad because that area of the country grew some really amazing produce during those times. Sadly, now even the smaller sellers have mostly moved on to buying wholesale veggies ripened on a truck instead of on the vine. Which I think has played a large part in detaching us from our environment and food, but that’s a story for another time.

While the name “ratatouille” is relatively newish in terms of food history first appearing in print around 1930s, the dish itself has a much longer history dating back to at least 18th century. Originating in Nice in southern France, ratatouille (or as it’s sometimes called “ratatouille niçoise”) is a perfectly lovely way for farmers (and us) to use up leftover and/or damaged summer vegetables. Something else that might surprise you is most ratatouille recipes I’ve seen over the years are VEGAN.

Recipes and cooking times differ widely depending on who and when you ask, but the common ingredients include tomato, garlic, onion, courgetti (zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), capsicum (bell pepper), and some combination of leafy green herbs common to the region like marjoram, and basil, or bay leaf and thyme, or a mix of green herbs like “herbs de Provence”.

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