Ratatouille is a classic French vegetable dish served in the summer when produce is at its peak flavor. The dish comes from Provence on the Mediterreanean coast of France. The region is known for plenty of sun in the summer, the perfect place for growing eggplant, tomatoes and zuchinni. Summer Ratatouille with Four Cheeses.
For years ratatouille wasn't a familiar dish in America. There was eggplant parmigiana, lots of summer tomato dishes, but ratatouille was almost unknown outside of France.
Provence, The French Mediterranean -
Ratatouille is a French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice, and sometimes referred to as ratatouille niçoise. Provence is on the Mediterranean coast which gets lots of sunshine year-round. In the heat of summer, vegetables like eggplant, sweet peppers and tomatoes, zuchinni, galic and wild lavender flourish, providing all the ingredients for this baked vegetable dish.
In 2007, Disney brought us "Ratatouille," the wonderful animated, now classic, film with a theme centered on the dish Ratatouille. The characters bring to life the passion for this dish and make us want to prepare it at home.Jump to Recipe
Eggplant, Tomatoes and Zuchinni-
Ratatouille is best in summer when you can pick the eggplant, tomatoes and zuchinni right from your backyard garden. Even better, local farmers markets are filled with seasonal produce and you're promoting a small local business.
Eggplant is available in supermarkets year-round, but zuchinni can be hit or miss and expensive. Tomatoes are another issue. Hot house or farmed tomatoes found in January are ok for most recipes, but the best tomatoes are picked during the summer when their flavor is at it's peak.
You can use baby or Japanese eggplant in this recipe, any type of tomato-green, heirloom, Roma or beefsteak. For the zuchinni, try both yellow and green. They have slightly different flavors and the texture is the same.
Building the Layers of Ratatouille Flavor-
In our recipe, the vegetables are stacked, then drizzled with olive oil and four different cheeses-parmesan, romano, asiago and mozarella. Cheese is totally up to you, but it adds additional creaminess to the vegetables.
- Cut the vegetables
- Layer the vegetables in rows
- Season and drizzle with olive oil
- Add the cheese and bake
The vegetables are seasoned with Herbes de Provence, a traditional blend that includes lavender and dried basil, fennel, marjoram, thyme and tarragon. Lavendar gives a sweet perfume to the ratatouille and the other dried herbs give a boost of sunny flavor.
See our recipe for Marinated Feta with Castelvetrano Olives and Herbes de Provence.
Dried herbs are just as important in your kitchen as fresh herbs, it just depends on the recipe. Fresh herbs are best in salads and some sauces, but dried herbs work well in slow-cooked or baked dishes.
Roast Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary is the good main for your ratatouille. Leg of lamb is studded with garlic and rosemary and roasted in the oven, but it's also delicious on the outdoor grill or outdoor rotisserie. Just adjust the cooking times for outdoor roasting of the leg of lamb.
Summer Ratatouille with Four Cheeses
Ratatouille is a classic French vegetable dish served in the summer when produce is at its peak flavor. The dish comes from Provence on the Mediterreanean coast of France. The region is known for plenty of sun in the summer, the perfect place for growing eggplant, tomatoes and zuchinni. Summer Ratatouillle with Four Cheeses.
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 eggplant, cut into thick slices
- 2 large tomatoes, cut into thick slices
- 1 large zuchinni, cut into thick slices
- ½ cup each of grated parmesan, asiago and romano cheese
- 1 tbsp. Herbes de Provence
- 1 tsp. each salt and black pepper
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup mozarella balls
- fresh oregano and fresh thyme for garnish
Heat the oven to 375. Start by stacking the vegetables in a row. Add slices of eggplant in one row, then a row of sliced tomatoes and a row of sliced zuchinni. Sprinkle the minced garlic and chopped onions over the vegetables.
Sprinkle ½ of the grated parmesan, asiago and romano cheeses over the vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, Herbes de Provence and then drizzle with the olive oil.
Bake the ratatouille in the oven for 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender and bubbling. Open the oven and sprinkle the remaining parmesan, asiago and romano cheese over the top of the ratatouille. Add the mozarella balls and return the ratatouille back to the oven and melt the cheeses, 5 minutes.
Garnish the ratatouille with fresh oregano and thyme and serve.