16 August 2011

Ratatouille baked in the oven

It's ratatouille season. All the vegetables that go into it are ripening out in the garden: tomatoes, eggplant (aubergines), summer squash (courgettes), and sweet red bell peppers. Ratatouille is a Provençal-Niçois-Marseillais dish and the name appears to come from the combination of two French verbs, ratatiner (which means "to shrivel up") and touiller (meaning "to stir").

Ratatouillelégumes d'été ratatinés

The simplest way to make ratatouille is to put all the cut up vegetables into a big pot with some onion, garlic, thyme, and olive oil and let them cook down together, either on top of the stove or in the oven. Other methods call for cooking the different vegetables separately and then mixing them all together before serving the ratatouille.

Arrange the sliced vegetables in a baking dish.

This version is cooked in a terrine or plat à gratin in the oven. You have to cut the vegetables up so that the pieces are fairly uniform in size. Then you arrange them carefully in the baking dish. Finally, stick some slivers or thin slices of garlic in among the sliced vegetables, sprinkle thyme, salt, and pepper over all, and drizzle on a good quantity of olive oil. Some bay leaves are good in it too.

Add garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Cook the ratatouille gratin in a 325ºF (160ºC) oven for an hour or two, until it's done and all the vegetables are ratatinés (shriveled up). In fact, they are confits (slow roasted) in the olive oil at that point. Along the way, if they look like they are drying out too much, add just a tiny bit of water to the pan, and even cover it with a lid or aluminum foil for a while so that everything cooks evenly.

Summer vegetables cooked in the oven
with garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and olive oil

You can eat this kind of ratatouille hot, warm, room temperature, or even cold, straight out of the refrigerator. It will keep for a while in the fridge, because the vegetables are completely cooked. I say that, but I have to admit that by sundown yesterday Walt and I had eaten up both the dishes of oven-baked ratatouille I made in the morning!

9 comments:

  1. It won't be long here...the tomatoes are just taking their sweet time though.

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  2. mmmmmm :) Made with fresh vegetables from your garden, I bet that tastes scrumptious-- no surprise that you two polished it all off!

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  3. I live on Ratatouille at this time of the year. I like the idea of making a change and doing it in the oven though. Next lot I cook up I will try. Diane

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  4. I love this and made something fairly similar yesterday. We are getting all these vegetables from the farm just now, and in a lot of volume and this is such a lovely thing to do with them. But I've never tried it all done in the oven, so next time, I'll try your technique.

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  5. Ken

    Isn't this version called a "Tian" ?

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  6. Yes, The Beaver, tian is a name for this kind of vegetable dish. I see a recipe on the web called Tian de Légumes du Soleil.

    Gene, our tomatoes are ripening slowly too. But September is really the big month for tomatoes here in the Loire Valley.

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  7. How rewarding it must be to grow your own ingredients and make them into a fantastic dish like this.

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  8. My favorite summer treat is ratatouille. I can understand why yours was eaten so quickly!

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  9. I can eat almost any quantity of ratatouille. Yours looks terrific.

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