Epicurean Delights: Making Ratatouille (with a secret touch)

Epicurean Delights: Making Ratatouille (with a secret touch)

The quintessential French dish... Not just a feast for the taste buds; it's a celebration of colors, textures, and the vibrant flavors of fresh, seasonal vegetables.

Today, we're mastering a masterpiece: Ratatouille.

While Ratatouille is delicious in the summer when the vegetables are in season, its lux, rich flavor provides comfort and warmth as the weather gets colder too.
  • 1 eggplant 
  • 2 zucchinis 
  • 2 yellow squash 
  • 6 roma tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced 
  • 28oz crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil
  • 3 sprigs of fresh oregano*
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary*
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme*
  • (optional) 1/2 cup of olive tapenade 
  • (optional) lemon zest
*You can also substitute 1/2-1 tsp of dried spices instead depending on your preference

To start, preheat the oven to 375 °. Use a mandoline or a sharp knife to cut the eggplant, zucchinis, squash, and Roma tomatoes into thin slices. Cut the eggplant into lengthwise quarters and then cut into slices from there to match the size of the other vegetables. 

Once that's done, set aside. Time to start on the sauce...

First, pour a good amount of olive oil into an oven-safe or cast iron 12" pan. Add the diced onion into the pan and let cook for a minute or two, followed by the garlic. Let the garlic and onion infuse into the olive oil until fragrant.

Add both of the bell peppers. Season with salt and pepper and let cook until soft (about 8 minutes). Add the can of tomatoes and let cook for a few minutes. Turn off the heat, and add the fresh spices.

Next, arrange the vegetables into the sauce. We find it easiest to take one of each, layer it, and then place in the sauce. Continue like this in 2-3 concentric circles until the pan is filled. 

Bake in the oven uncovered for 60 minutes. 

***Exclusive tip for our Hot Couture readers: an uncommon but wonderful touch is to take the pan out of the oven and drizzle olive tapenade and sprinkle some lemon zest on top when there's about 10 minutes left of baking time. Then put the pan back in the oven to finish baking. The olive adds a nice bitter tanginess while the lemon adds a touch of brightness to this otherwise rich stew. 

When done, remove from the oven and let rest. Ratatouille is best when the flavors are given time to marinate, so it'll get even better the next day.

Et voilà...! You're now equipped to embark on your own ratatouille masterpiece. Here's to many more culinary escapades and the joy of creating dishes that not only tantalize the taste buds but also warm the soul. Happy cooking!
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