Ratatouille is a stew of vegetables from the South of the France. And as I am currently there now, at the beginning of the fall season, cooking and filling the house with the smell of slowly cooked vegetables is a pure pleasure
Originally Ratatouille was a rough peasant stew and it is only in the 20th century that it became the dish that we know now. Ratatouille is composed of cooked vegetables which are eggplants, zucchinis, peppers, tomatoes and onions along with garlic and olive oil. There is not one rigid recipe to follow but some principles are to be respected.
Let’s look at the benefits of this dish that is very low in calories and high in vitamins.
- Eggplant is full of water. It is nutritionally dense. It is source of manganese, copper, vitamins B1, B6 and B9 that contribute to the prevention of the damage caused by free radicals, the collagen formation useful to repair of tissues of the body, to the transmission of nerve impulses and the lowering of blood cholesterol.
- Zucchini is a source of vitamins C and B9. Can consume at will. It is very rich in lutein and zeaxantheine, two antioxydants that contribute in retina protection, in decrease of risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancers and chronic diseases.
- Pepper is rich in vitamin C and is known to combat oxidant stress and inflammation. It is also rich in provitamin A, fibre and vitamins B6 and B9. Its high potassium content is a true asset.
- Tomatoes are very rich in provitamin A and lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant. It is also a source of vitamin C, vitamin B9, potassium and manganese. Tomatoes help contribute in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and some cancers such as prostate.
Tip: Cooking tomatoes increase the bioavailability of lycopene which doubles in quantity after 30 minutes of cooking.
After having tried many versions of this dish, my favourite ratatouille recipe is adapted from Laura Calder. It is called Lazy ratatouille, but I do not find that lazy to prepare it.
- 2 large eggplants, cut into slices
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 yellow or green bell peppers
- 4 small Zucchini, sliced into rings
- 8 medium, coarsely cut tomatoes
- 2 onions, sliced into rings
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 or 2 Bay leaves
- 1 or 2 Rosemary branches
- herbs of provence
- 1 handful of fresh basil
- olive oil
- Preheat the oven (broil) upper rack.
- Cut Eggplant into slices and spread them out on a plate or a clean towel. Salt generously and let rest about 30 minutes. Rinse well and dry with a cloth.
- Equeuter peppers and remove seeds. Put bell peppers under the grill. Cook about 20 minutes turning them once or twice till they become black. Turn them a couple of times during cooking to ensure that the skin blackens well. Take them out, put them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, and let stand for a few minutes. Peal the skin that will detach easily, cut into juliennes and set in a big bowl.
- Turn the oven to 450 F.
- Spread Zucchini on a plate, add a drizzle of olive oil and cook them around10 minutes turning them once. Turn them once during cooking.
- Remove Zucchini from the oven and add to bell peppers.
- Spread the Eggplant on the plate, add a drizzle of olive oil and cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn them once during cooking.
- Remove the eggplants from the oven and add them to bell peppers and zucchini.
- While cooking the vegetables in the oven, cook the onions in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, bay leaf, rosemary, and saute about 1 minute.
- Add the sliced tomatoes and cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes or until thick. Add salt, pepper and herbes de provence.
- Add vegetables to the tomatoes in the saucepan, stir and adjust seasoning.
- Before serving, add fresh basil leaves.