Ratatouille is a well-known vegetable stew hailing from Provence, a region in France famous for the bounty of its produce. It’s no surprise then that this stew is a celebration of hard-working farmers and the fruits of their labor. It’s common to find eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic, and herbs all cooked slowly in olive oil in this hearty and comforting staple. The ingredients may vary from recipe to recipe, but these are the essentials.
Ratatouille is considered a healthy and very filling dish. It’s a favorite among dieters because it is high in nutrients and low in calories. Ratatouille is a balanced meal suitable for vegetarians and vegans. For those concerned with the lack of protein in this dish, you can always add lean chicken or fish. (Photo courtesy of Stock.XCHNG/flame_)
The word ratatouille comes from the French verb touiller, which means, "to stir up." While this may imply a set method, there is actually a debate as to the right way of cooking it. The vegetables can be cooked together or cooked separately and combined at the end. Some cooks combine all the vegetables together at once. Other cooks prefer to create a concentrated base with the onions, garlic, bell peppers, and tomatoes, cooked until their juices have almost evaporated, and then layer the remaining sautéed vegetables on top of it, which creates a type of casserole. Another method used is to sauté all the vegetables separately, then let them simmer in a pot on a stove until they reach the tenderness desired and the spices blend together. Ratatouille is usually served as a side dish, but can be combined with pasta, rice, or fish to be served as a main dish or appetizer.
No matter how you decide to make it though, one thing is certain: Remy was really on to something when he decided to put everything on the line and make this simple yet honest and heartwarming "peasant" dish for the jaded and cynical restaurant critic, Anton Ego. One bite and you’ll understand, too.