The French sure know how to create a tasty dish from the garden. Consider the healthy medley of colorful vegetables, rich olive oil and flavorful herbs they call ratatouille. The word comes from the verb "touiller," meaning to toss food.
But, wait. Is ratatouille (pronounced ra-ta-too-ee) really a French creation? Cultures around the Mediterranean claim variations on the delicious stew. Greeks add potatoes and call it "briami." Turkish cooks include mushrooms and bake the dish, dubbing it "imam bayildi." Israelis and Romanians refer to the same dish as "gvetch."
France. French cooks from Nice believe their ratatouille nicoise, originally a peasant farmer dish, begat the modern version.
In this version, the vegetables are cooked separately to keep flavors and textures intact.
Use a mix of brightly-colored red, green, yellow or orange peppers for an especially festive dish. Choose a firm, heavy eggplant without wrinkles or soft spots to reduce the chance of it tasting bitter. Leaving the skin on adds texture and flavor.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 eggplant, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
¾ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 small zucchini, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
2 bell peppers, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 onion, halved, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
The Veggie Cook